This is a basic rule of selling in a B2B environment.
However, this does not mean B2B sales do not also have a big element of what I call “B2P” impact.
My definition of B2P is “business to politics.”
It refers to the impact various people can have in an organization on what is actually the right investment a company should be making.
The politics can come in many different forms, but the one that trips up salespeople the most is the politics that can from what I call the “remote influencer.”
This is the person who never identifies themselves as being engaged in the buying process, but who suddenly can wield major influence at the last minute. These people definitely exist in B2B sales.
Many times they reside in finance, but they also just as often can be someone in an unrelated department who looks for situations to poke their nose into as a way of making themselves look good.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for somebody to throw a salesperson under the bus as a way of making the “remote influencer” look good. This is what makes these people “remote influencers.” I hate to say it, but “remote influencer” is too nice of a description.
If you don’t think these people exist, then you haven’t spent any time working for a major corporation. I’ve found the larger the corporation, the more likely it will be for you to encounter these type of people.
Unfortunately, I can say this from both sides of the fence. I’ve experienced it as both a salesperson and as one who spent years working for several “Fortune 100″ companies.
It is impossible to identify these people beforehand. They simply appear, and when they do, it’s many times too late in the process to deal with it, unless you’ve taken the precautionary steps. The way to minimize the threat of these people is to ensure when you are selling into a large company that you have as many relationships established as possible.
Never allow yourself to only have relationships with the decision maker and the users. You have to have relationships with those people above these people.
I refer to these relationships as an insurance policy, because they can help you have in place what you need to fight off a remote influencer should they appear.
The reason to have the relationship with people above the decision maker and user is because the remote influencer’s power typically lies with the relationship they have with the more senior person. By having your relationship established with the senior person before the remote influencer enters the scene, you’ll be far more likely to minimize the impact they might have.
If you are in B2B sales, you better pay close attention to the politics going on behind the scenes.
Copyright 2012, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.