Because sales is more complex than ever, professionals in the field have to keep in mind they face the very real possibility that they’ll be selling to a group of decision-makers, rather than a single final decider. This is particularly true when a sale to an organization involves more than one department. It’s a situation that necessitates dealing with more moving parts and a diverse set of tactics to be able to close a deal. We’ve put together this guide to help you navigate the sometimes-choppy waters of multi-departmental decision makers.
- Every department will have different needs and consequently see your solution differently.
At the foundation of your multi-departmental strategy is the recognition that each of the departments that you’re dealing with has different needs vis-à-vis your solution, and in consequence, will view that offering in a different light.
For example, let’s say you’re a sales representative for a CRM provider. The C-Suite of an organization will be concerned with how your CRM fits into the overall scheme of the business’s strategy. Marketing will want to know how the software is able to handle and track campaigns, lead generation, etc. Sales is interested in learning its capabilities for managing accounts, KPI tracking and forecasting, and so on. That’s three different departments, all of whom want and need completely different things from your CRM.
- If you’re lucky, the organization will be open and collaborative. If you’re not, prepare to deal with silos.
There are always two – a Master and an Appre- wait, wrong venue. Jokes aside, there’s two types of organizational structures – open, collaborative ones where, for example, sales and marketing are aligned – and siloed ones, where there’s little to no alignment, and one department doesn’t know what the other one is doing.
If it’s a collaborative environment, your task becomes much easier. Everyone will keep each other in the loop and be more or less aware of what’s going on in terms of the buying process involving the problems your product is solving.
Pro Tip: If your prospect has a Revenue Operations or Sales Operations department, make them a primary point of contact. They’re commonly the nerve center that can keep you from getting in silo trouble. You’ll still need to approach from multiple angles (more on that later), but a lot of the communication quagmires that can come up in such involved, complex negotiations are sidestepped.
You’ll still need to approach from multiple angles (more on that later), but a lot of the communication quagmires that can come up in such involved, complex negotiations are sidestepped.
Should you be facing a siloed organization, it’s going to be up to you to do the centralization yourself. This can be accomplished through things such as making sure everyone is copied on email communications.
- Discovery Is Never Over.
Print out the above phrase and hang it on your cubicle or office wall. It’s arguably the single most important aphorism to remember as a sales professional. Discovery really does never end and it’s even more true when you’re working with multiple departments within an organization on a single sale.
How to go about it? Like in school, do your homework. Talk to the decision-makers, talk to their peers, find out what each department’s individual issues are and figure out how your solution can fit into those needs. While you’re in this process, take meticulous notes on everything because these are the individual pieces you’ll eventually have to put into a cohesive whole and present.
Long story short, you’ll be doing a lot more needs analysis. For those of you not familiar, a needs analysis is a process whereby you determine how a product fits the needs of the people you’re dealing with. It consists of three parts: 1) identifying what the needs are, 2) the priority and importance of those needs, and 3) how difficult it will be to solve those needs.
- Connect it all together and read the room.
Once you’ve run your needs analyses, see where the common threads and patterns emerge that allow you to weave together a connected whole and narrative for your presentation. You won’t be able to cover everything for everyone in all likelihood – there simply isn’t enough time, and certain audience members might be disengaged during portions that aren’t relevant to them. But if you can find the space that addresses as many people as possible, you’ll have the core material and positioning you need. If you’re visually oriented, consider constructing a Venn diagram to assist you in isolating your key points.
During the actual presentation itself, leave room for tailoring your approach based on the audience. Also read the room carefully – you want to try to ascertain who the influencers and decision-makers are and appeal to them. Influencers in particular can be critical in helping build post-presentation consensus and agreement in a multi-departmental decision-making process.
As with any sales presentation, you’ll want to make sure to close out by establishing consensus on next steps – if not outright win agreement and close the deal (admittedly difficult because of how many moving parts are involved, but if you lay the groundwork, it could well be possible).
Although navigating the byzantine maze of a multi-departmental sale might seem a task suited only to the epic heroes of sales, the reality is you can accomplish it by following these steps. It involves a longer sales cycle and greater patience than singleton decision-maker selling processes, but the skills developed in these more complex sales will make you a better sales professional overall.