ANATOMY OF A BUYING CENTRE

Buying centre is the decision-making unit of a buying organization. It is composed of all the individuals and units that participate in the business decision-making process. The buying centre includes all members of the organization who play a role in the purchase decision process. They share common goals and the risks arising from the decisions. The members include the actual users of the product or service, those who make the buying decision, those who influence the buying decision, those who do the actual buying and those who control buying information. The members of the buying centre or decision-making unit of the organization fulfil various functions and often engage in complex interactions, both among themselves and with outsiders such as salespeople and suppliers. Constituents of a Buying Center The buying centre includes all members of the organization who play any of seven roles in the purchase decision process. Initiators: Initiators are those people who request that something is to be purchased. They may be users or others in the organization. Users: Users are those people who will use the product or services. They are so-called because the work they do in the organization is directly affected by the purchase under consideration. They can range from trainees to executives. Influencers: Influencers are the people who influence the buying decision. They help to shape criteria by providing useful information. In the complex world of modern business, technical and legal experts often influence buying decisions, although they may have no direct connection with the buying process itself. Deciders: Deciders are the people who decide on product requirements or on suppliers. They have the final authority over buying decisions. In some cases, the buyer may also be that decider, but in most cases, the two roles are performed by separate individuals. For example, engineers have the final say in deciding with suppliers of raw materials to choose. Approvers: Approvers are the people who authorize the proposed actions of deciders or buyers. Buyers: Buyers are those people who have formal authority to select the supplier and arrange the purchase items. They can range from the chief of the company to its purchasing agent. They contact suppliers and negotiate business transactions. Buyers often have the power to choose suppliers or to develop lists of suitable suppliers. Specifiers: Consultants, technicians or designers who state product specifications. Gatekeepers: Gatekeepers are those people who have the power to prevent sellers or information from searching members of the buying centre. They can be purchasing agents, salespersons, or secretaries. They control the information flowing into the buying centre and they are often the members of the organization who contact suppliers or vendors to solicit a quote for their products. In some businesses like building material business, they deal with multiple organisations who also make decisions on buying the right product/Service. This makes their job more complex and challenging. Each group, known as a buying centre, determines which materials are purchased and who is commissioned to provide a service. As its members have an enormous influence, they are important players in the business and deserve special consideration within the customer journey. When we do our planning and preparation exercise it is important to do the homework using a customer mapping canvas before we go out to sell as otherwise any one of these members can create a roadblock for us. When we start our sales conversation with the prospective customer/client it is important that we scan/map these members, their roles, their decision making or influencing power and their technical knowledge. This would help us in pitching for sales and getting into a conversation that strikes the right chord with them. Once we map the buying centre members, we can make our strategic plan in terms of who, when and where the meeting is to be held. Whom should we take for support for each of these engagements? What should be discussed with each of them? How to break any barriers that are expected? Etc. Each of these is a milestone and should be captured for further meetings and discussions. This planning also helps in discussions within our organisation and with partner organisations or principles. Mapping the Buying Center gives a powerful concept of customer insights. Understanding it can help you in marketing, product development, sales or as a management decision-maker. It gives you information to select strategies around a stringent storyline and your brand's working channels. This would also help us choose the right enablers in the form of People or Skills to make the meeting move to the next milestone.

ANATOMY OF A BUYING CENTRE