Selling to a Committee Brings New Challenges

Here’s one of the most important questions you could ever ask one of your prospects: “Is there anyone else besides yourself who might be involved with this purchasing decision?”

Why is the question so critical? Because more and more companies are using committees to make major buying decisions. Many salespeople tell me, “I thought I was talking to the person in charge, but when I asked for the sale, I was informed there were other players in the decision-making process who would have to be consulted first.”

Senior executives who used to buy on the spot are often now consulting several members of their respective organizations. Why? It’s simple – they want ‘buy in’ from the people who will have to manage or use your products and services. In short, don’t be surprised if the person you thought was the decision-maker invites you back to talk with a production manager, a purchasing officer or perhaps even an end user of your products or services. While it’s not bad to be invited back for another appointment, it is time consuming. Furthermore, if you have to meet with each of the other players individually, you may find yourself asking and answering the same questions over and over again.

So what can you do? First, in your pre-call planning research, try to determine how buying decisions are made at your prospect’s place of business. If you discover your prospect uses a ‘committee’ approach, don’t be afraid to recommend that you make your sales presentation to the entire committee, instead of making three or four individual presentations.

Second, allot more time to the committee meeting. It’s likely you’re going to have to field more questions, but it will be worth it. After all, you might find yourself making one sales presentation instead of three or four.

About Kevin Reinert


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  1. Sean McPheat says:

    Kevin, you are so right with this.

    Committee decisions are becoming more common place now than ever before for several reasons.

    1. As you said, they like to get buy in from the people/departments/senior managers who will either be using it or responsible for implementing it

    2. Decision Makers are scared to make poor decisions. At least if 5 of them have made a bad decision, if it all goes wrong then they will not be singled out!

    3. Scared. A lot of decision makers can’t simply make a decision on their own – this is a really important point to bare in mind. Some are “external reference” people which means they need facts, opinions, back up, input and evidence before making a decision

    4. Then there are those that just CAN’T make a decision to save their lives! Whether it be your product or service, what to have to lunch, what to wear etc !!!!!!

    Work out the buying process up front just as Kevin mentions above and it will really save you a lot of time, meetings, presentations and frustration!

    Happy committee selling!

    The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling

  2. Hello Sean

    You have added some outstanding points. Your comment about decision-makers being afraid to make poor decisions is one of the priary reasons prospects often go with the “big-name, least-risk” vendor, instead of a lesser known supplier who might actually be the best choice. They figure if things don’t work out, they can always say “It’s not my fault, we hired the most well known name in the business.” However, if they hire a relatively “unknown” vendor and problems occur, their colleagues will question their judgment and accuse them of having taken a poor risk.

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