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Corporate Sales: Focus on Emotions and Group Dynamics

Woman's EmotionsToday, the average buying team includes 5.4 people. This is bad news for suppliers as bigger teams are significantly less likely to buy. Teams of two are 26% less likely to buy than a single buyer, while teams of 6+ are 50% less likely to buy. The problem is consensus—buyers report that reaching team-wide agreement on a decision is 81% harder than making up their own mind.

Focus on Personal and Emotional Value…

We used to assume that demonstrating the business value of a purchase to each individual would be sufficient to drive action but it turns out that has become the equivalent of poker’s “table stakes”. Today we must also focus on the personal value achieved through the purchase. The emotional and social benefits that a supplier or product could offer created a 65% lift over base buyer preference.  All this time, we assumed that larger purchase groups meant more rational, business-oriented purchases, when in reality, that’s not the case at all.

…And Take Account of Group Decision Making

Individuals behave differently in groups. Even when individuals want to make a purchase, they may be reluctant to speak up or unable to agree. Indeed, half of buyers admit they won’t advocate for desired purchases—due largely to the risk and/or effort of proposing a change that others may oppose. Disparate perspectives (i.e., perceived or actual misalignment of needs) and resistance to change may also derail many group purchases Add information overload and decisions become less and less rational and more and more emotionally driven. Sales success will mean needing to motivate advocacy among the group.

To make individuals willing to advocate (not just willing to buy), commercial organizations must ensure the perceived value of advocacy is greater than the perceived risk and effort. Since risk and effort are personal (e.g., the risk of losing credibility), value must also be personal. To motivate advocacy it is important to demonstrate that personal value outweighs personal risk.

In addition to conveying personal value, it is possible to reduce perceived risk by demonstrating organizational support for change. This can be accomplished through highlighting shared needs to help individuals convince each other of the need to change. In other words, it is no longer enough to address individual needs; success requires attention to interpersonal dynamics. Instead of building stronger connections to each individual, sales reps must build connections between individuals.

CEB Sales Members: Listen to a webinar replay to identify the best internal stakeholders to target, engage Mobilizers to drive internal consensus, teach reps to use constructive tension to create urgency around a sale and use our Social Selling resources to map customer networks and teach where customers learn.

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