Article by CELINA GUERRERO Social Selling Trainer @socialtosales
Gallup recently published an article entitled B2B Companies: Do You Know Who Your Customer Is? written by Marco Nink and John H. Fleming.
The article touches on three primary points.
1. THE DAYS OF A SINGLE DECISION-MAKER ARE OVER
According to this study, even at smaller companies, there are multiple decision makers and the number of decision makers increases according to the size of the organization.
2. THE BUYER SEES “FEELINGS AS FACTS” IN THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS
In a study, a majority of the respondents (54%) said that they would let a deal fall through if they had a “bad feeling” about it, despite favorable facts.
With big investments at stake, trust (if not instinct) is still a component in the decision-making process. While demonstrable business value is at the core of a transaction, the customer most often requires that transaction to be done with a trusting partner.
3. THERE ARE 4 DISTINCT BUYERS WHO EACH SERVE DIFFERENT PURPOSES
These excerpts are taken from the Gallup article.
- “Decision-makers are members of senior management, authorized signatories or policymakers who jointly or exclusively commit funds, make choices and sign off on products and services.
- Influencers are employees who influence the decision-making process, set standards and have an advisory role but who are not decision-makers themselves. They serve as formal or informal advisers in the purchase process.
- Buyers are employees, such as purchasing agents or procurement specialists, who seek and assess tenders and are involved in the procurement process itself. They are usually involved in decisions that define the terms of the contract.
- End users are employees with whom account representatives interact most often or who coordinate activities with the supplier. They are also employees who ultimately use suppliers’ products or services.”
HOW LINKEDIN HELPS YOU FIND AND BETTER UNDERSTAND YOUR 4 BUYERS
STEP 1: IDENTIFY THE TITLES FOR YOUR 4 BUYERS
If you don’t yet have individual names, and are perhaps targeting an account, using your experience from past deals, write down the typical title(s) of the people who fit these categories the best.
Decision-Maker Title: ___________________
Influencer Title: ___________________
Buyer Title: ___________________
End User Title: ___________________
STEP 2: USE LINKEDIN’S ADVANCED SEARCH TO IDENTIFY BUYERS’ NAMES
In cases where you don’t yet have individual names, use the Advanced Search to find decision-makers at your target company.
- Title: Include 2-word titles in quotes. Eg. “account executive”. If a buyer has multiple titles they might be called, use the OR symbol in between so you don’t have to run multiple searches for one buyer type. Eg. “account executive OR “account exec” OR”account manager”
- Current: Select current on the left column for the individual and current for thecompany as well.
- Relationship: Select all connection types in your LinkedIn network – 1st, 2nd, Group, 3rd
- Location: Include a location when necessary
STEP 3: ADD THEM TO YOUR CONTACTS AND TAG THEM
Click the Star below someone’s photo and tag them with the name of your client (not yet connected). By clicking the star, you’re adding them to your contacts. By tagging them with your target client’s name, you can more easily track those prospects.
Later, you can click on the tag, and see all the prospects from that company on one page.
STEP 4: READ EACH BUYER’S LINKEDIN PROFILE
Review the connections you have in common, learn about their background, how long they’ve been at their current company, what school they went to, interests, groups, awards, etc. Read this article on how to qualify a prospect to learn more.
Run a Google search on their name too. If the person is prominent in their business, like the “Decision-maker” Gallup identifies, create a Google Alert on their name so you can be apprised of any important news that might help you advance the deal.
STEP 5: CONNECT WITH YOUR DECISION MAKERS ON LINKEDIN AND READ THEIR UPDATES
Once you’ve had some interaction with them, or the timing is right to introduce yourself, send a personalized connection request. Once connected you will likely have greater access to their profile information. In most cases being a 1st connection allows you to see what prospects are sharing or doing on LinkedIn, which provides insight to what’s on their mind and what they care about.
- Use Advanced Search to find your 4 buyers on LinkedIn. Remember – the more connected you are with people in your target company and the more groups you share in common with your target buyer, the closer the connection they will be and therefore, the greater the likelihood there names will appear high in your search results.
- Use LinkedIn to learn more about the people you want to do business with.
- Make sure when you connect with them, they are impressed with your LinkedIn Profile. Your profile should communicate how you can help them solve their problems, not about how great you are. See #2 above – how they feel about you matter.