Every organization is a collective of uniquely different people who have their own personal needs, priorities and agendas. Ideally, these are aligned with the organization but this is rarely the case. Internal politics, restructuring, takeovers, retrenchments and career changes are common. Honoring the law of self-interest is important. A person in the buying center or power-base of an organization may be in either a negative/conservative mode or a positive/ambitious mode. The motivations of individuals in either of these modes are as follows:
- Protect their position or reputation versus look good, be a leader or hero
- Avoid mistakes and maintain control versus receive recognition or promotion
- Avoid conflict versus be an agent of change
- Save money or reduce costs versus improve revenues or productivity
An individual does not function in a vacuum. They are part of an organization that will have certain business drivers that influence all decisions. Success in strategic selling demands understanding of personal agendas and corporate operating modes. Every organization operates in either a positive or negative mode and every commercial enterprise is driven by a need to increase profit. Most government organizations are instead driven by a desire to improve service levels, ideally without increasing costs. In both corporate and government entities, there is a universal desire to achieve 'more with less' and any proposal or business-case should focus on greater output (more revenue) from existing resources (greater productivity), or less cost or effort (improved efficiency).
The pace of business (decision urgency and priority) is influenced by the organization's current operating mode. Growth and survival modes mean fast decisions, and maintenance mode means slow decisions. It is important to understand the operating mode when seeking to influence the decision making process:
- Survival mode: Decision speed is fast. Business drivers are cost reduction and improved cash-flow
- Maintenance mode: Decision speed is slow. Business drivers are productivity and profit while also reducing costs. In maintenance mode it is more difficult to identify specific drivers and close business. The buyer 'doing nothing' is often a real risk
- Growth mode: Decision speed is fast. Business drivers are productivity and profit
Business State / Operational Mode - Business Decision Impact
The Buyer's Journey - Impact of Seller Engagement
The very best sales people engineer alignment with personal agendas and corporate drivers. They understand the need to balance risk with reward for the decision-makers and to align with the natural pace of decision-making and change management. Most importantly, they know what drives the risk of doing nothing, within individuals and the customer organization.
Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published in LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony's award winning blog. Also visit Tony's keynote speaker website at www.TonyHughes.com.au or his sales methodology website at http://www.rsvpselling.com/.
Main image photo by Flickr: Nguyen Vu Hung
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