Tailor the message for a diverse decision group is an art

All hands together, racial equality in team

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When the amount of decision makers was small, we could tailor messages for each stakeholder. And address their specific interests. But as the decision groups grows, the effectiveness of the old model decline. It becomes impractical to tailor messages for a larger group. An if tailored for each stakeholder, few will hear a common story when they compare notes. And the real challenge is to help your customer towards a consensus like decision.

The number of stakeholders in B2B decisions are increasing

CEB has pointed out the changes in B2B decision making. With growing complexity in the market comes a growing number of stakeholders in each decision. A phenomena leading to a decision processes with consensus decision as the outcome.

With a growing number of decision makers tailored messages does not work like in the past. Each stakeholder still has their unique needs and key concern. But a focus on what make them different rather than what they have in common jeopardize reaching any decision at all.

Also, customized messages for each stakeholder dilute the big picture. If a group of stakeholders compare  customized messages, the common denominator is small. The focus here is on communicating messages that make sense with a larger group. As well as support the decision making process to reaching any decision at all.

Address the 3 stakeholders who make a decision difference

In a consensus driven decision world CEB have found 3 stakeholders to be the mobilizers behind decisions. Each playing a distinct role. With focus on reaching a decision for change, and taking implementation actions.

The Go-Getter is the engine behind making and executing a decision. Always keen on moving ahead. But dependent on the other two to move in the right direction and when timing is right.

The Teacher is in charge of defining the vision, direction and arguments to take the group to YES. Brining insights about the market and the opportunity at hand.

The Skeptic is taking the role of finding holes and gaps in the proposed approach to take the group past NO. Known to be pessimistic until approaches and assumptions are clear enough to be credible.

When selling into a consensus environment your role is to enable the three key stakeholders. In a way they can craft aa consensus decision recommendation. A journey where the three key stakeholders influence the broader group of stakeholders.

Tailor a consensus agenda to the group of three

The market messages for this scenario address the common denominators between the three roles. One more focused on what to do, i.e. the Teacher. One focused on how to do it, i.e. the Go-Getter. The final focused on why it will work, i.e. the Skeptic.

In this scenario it is critical to see and understand what keep each one of the three focus on in the build up towards the decision. A reality pushing you to understand your customer well. Insights around concern and issues get vital to pave for consensus decisions.

Questions to ask yourself and your sales team

  1. Do you face a sales scenario where you can expect a broad group of stakeholders – and where a consensus decision model is in play.
  2. How mature is our customer in managing a consensus decision making process – the more mature the better.
  3. Which customer representatives play the 3 key roles – more important than formal authority.
  4. How is the power between the three distributed – ideally well balanced in order to reach a clear consensus.
  5. What are the critical questions and concerns the three key players have – use this as the basis for your messages.

Additional reading suggestions 

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