Enterprise customers can be a complex bunch. I know this because I’m one of them. Their purchasing decisions tend to find their way through a hierarchy of stakeholders before the decision to purchase has been made. Each one requires a different approach in order to convince them to purchase. I’ve bucketed them into 3 different types of roles:
This person is feeling the pain point(s). She’s trying to achieve her goals to support the business but has run into a blocker. There are some work-a-rounds but it could be time-consuming and isn’t scalable. It might be fine this time, but there has to be something out there that would make her work easier so she could focus on other areas. She’s not sure what it is and isn’t too sure what to look for. Does it even exist? The search for the solution to the problem may have originated from here. She’s Googled around herself, and may have found some ideas for the solution. The Requestor also reached out to her cohorts to see if they had any suggestions. She has an idea what she wants but may not be what she needs. Look to sell her the right solution as she is most likely the end-user.
The requestor may have kindly asked The Sponsor to look for a solution to her pain point. His task is to use his knowledge and expertise to figure out what would be the right solution to help The Requestor. The Sponsor has gone back and forth with The Requestor on what she is trying to solve and begins to gather the requirements. He doesn’t know the cost of the solution just yet. Although he may not have a budget in mind, he’s researching on what’s out there and what it’s going to cost. He works with The Requestor to try the product out and understand if there is a fit. The proof of concept must be made before a purchase decision. In many cases, you will be targeting your messaging to The Sponsor and be working with him through the sales cycle. Hint: Your product isn’t the only one he’s considering.
She holds the credit card, the PO, and has access to the checkbook. The proof of concept from The Sponsor and The Requestor must be reviewed carefully. Is it necessary for the business and how is this going to make her team more productive? Regardless of budget, she keeps a watchful eye of her team’s spending and has to weigh the different between build versus buy. She questions the product and pricing and inquires whether there are other alternatives. She may not be the end-user, nor is she aware of the pain point The Requestor is experiencing. But she trusts their opinions. Her time is limited, but you might find the Decision Maker looped in the sales call. Consider a high level description of how it’s going to solve the company’s pain points.
The three personas above can be intertwined. That is, The Sponsor and The Requestor could be the same person. The Decision Maker might be the same person as the Requestor, and so forth. In fact, you may only be in contact with one of the personas during the entire cycle. Just be aware that there are a few other involved too. Adjusting your approach to each persona should help with the sale.