Identify the potential buyer’s pain prior to making that big pitch


Business to business deals harder than business to client. FILE PHOTO | NMG

john kageche


  • Business to business deals harder than business to client.

Customising your product’s value argument across the organisation’s hierarchy is an indispensable ingredient for success in the business-to-business (B2B) sale.

The B2B sale is one where an organisation sells to another organisation. For instance, an engineering firm selling a packaging plant to a manufacturer. The opposite of B2B is business to customer (B2C); where, say, a bank sells an account to an individual.

The B2B sale is a complex one. This is because, unlike the B2C one, the decision-making in the B2B is not by an individual but a unit- a group of individuals. And each of them is ‘selfishly’ motivated and measures success differently.

Therefore, standardising your presentation across the hierarchy is a guaranteed ticket to abject frustration and most certainly losing the sale. You’ll be frustrated because you will not understand why their technical expert bought into every bit of your torque, resistor, drawdown, 5mbps and other jargon, but their financial manager looked irritated with the same pitch.

And if you remembered to talk cost-savings to him, you will be a perfect case for cardiac arrest if you repeat the cost pitch to the head of human resource for whom, say, the software, being bought is intended for, she likely will be sold to how it feeds into the policy and procedures of the organisation and is approved by the governing body as preferred to enabling compliance with the labour laws.

As for the CEO, assuming it’s an enterprise-wide software, he’ll likely be interested in your credibility, the return on investment, or enhanced operational efficiency. Naturally, the sales director will be motivated by one thing-numbers.

And something else, the higher up the hierarchy you go, the less time you have to pitch. It makes sense, therefore, to establish the respective buyer’s pain ahead to pitching to him his gain.

Here’s more. Telling the CEO that reconciliations are not being done will just serve to irritate him because it’s an operational, not strategic, matter.

“Why are you telling me this?” he’ll likely retort. “Get someone to do it!” If, however, you told him that there are financial irregularities, now you have tuned into his frequency and you have his attention.

At a foods factory, the safety manager who wants gloves and head nets bought for use by the plant staff to ensure hygiene, need only tell them, “You must put these on,” and remind them their jobs depend on it. However, to tune into ‘Executive-FM’ he is best placed to start with, “Safety is being compromised at the factory.”

This way, he focuses on what matters most to them-organisational values and operational risk in this case. This same pitch to procurement is best skewed to whether the vendor supplying the gloves is pre-approved and if three quotations were obtained.

The inability to speak the respective buyer’s language just prolongs the sale or loses it altogether.