When senior leaders make complex, high-value investments they have a lot to think about. As you develop your strategy to engage them, it can be helpful to reflect on their decision-making process and priorities, and align your messaging and activity accordingly.
Here are a few questions to consider:
1. Do you have a business case?
In any financial climate, but now more than ever, before authorising a significant financial outlay, most executives require a business case. This is your opportunity to outline the challenge or opportunity facing the organisation, the potential solutions, likely costs involved, benefits expected, and a break-even or return on investment calculation.
2. Are your arms around the whole team?
Business buying is too complicated and too important to be done by a single person. Instead, a group of people will often work together to make the decision, playing distinct roles in the buying process. In some cases, third parties, such as procurement advisors or technical consultants, will be included to bring a degree of objectivity and experience to the procedure. Consider what will be important to each person to ensure your proposal is a success.
3. Is procurement on your radar?
Procurement professionals are increasingly involved in the purchase process, tailoring their approach to reflect how important the supplier is to the business today and in the future. Procurement not only has responsibility for the initial purchase, but also for managing contracts and relationships with suppliers. If possible, work with them from the outset.
4. Have you mitigated against risk?
Unsurprisingly, executives are risk averse when buying complex, expensive business solutions. The financial and reputational cost to their organisation and their own careers is likely to be high. Keep in mind that they will need reassurance that they are making the right decision for their organisation and its stakeholders.
5. Is finance part of your offer?
When organisations buy a multi-year solution, the costs can run into hundreds of millions of pounds. While it may be possible to fund this from cash reserves, they might need a loan or financing arrangement. Some of the biggest companies in the world, such as GE, have created financing businesses to help their clients make these large purchases, which has become a core part of their value proposition. Consider how you could make it easier for your customer to buy your solution.
6. How will you continue to add value?
Contracting is complicated and different clients will have their own approach, typically undertaken by commercial and legal professionals once the purchase decision has been made. And remember the purchase is just the start. Business buyers will be looking for a range of tools, content, and ideas from their suppliers to maximise their return on investment and continue to add value to their business. How will you build this into your relationship?
Read more about creating a delivering effective executive engagement strategies in Executive Engagement Strategies; how to have conversations and develop relationships that build B2B business, by Bev Burgess which is available from Kogan Page.