An important insight needed when launching a product is to understand how the customers you want make a buying decision. Some reading this will pass this off as an activity for their sales team to figure out. Just give the sales team the product and they do all the selling stuff.
Here’s why that strategy fails. Members of your sales team will not experiment forever. At some point, they give up. They stop trying to sell the product. They move on to other products that help them achieve their sales quota (and keep their job).
If you want a successful product launch you need to know how your customers make a buying decision. I cover this in more detail in the BrainKraft Launch Readiness Workshop. For now, I’ll give you an overview to help you get started.
A Buying Center
The term I use to refer to a group of people involved in a buying decision (which is common in a B2B environment) is called a Buying Center. Some use the term Buying Team, but I think that term isn’t accurate. A team works in concert. My experience informs me that on average a B2B buying decision involves multiple people who rarely work as a team.
In a Buying Center, you will find 4 buying roles: The Decision Maker, the Researcher, the Technical Reviewer, and the User Influencer. I suppose you could make this more complicated with more roles, but you don’t need to.
The Decision Maker
The Decision Maker focuses on business outcomes. They are the people that control the budget and approve payment. They do things like evaluate the cost (what they will pay) vs. the benefit they expect to receive.
The Decision Maker is typically one person who gets input from the other buying roles. There can be a committee of Decision Makers for very large purchase decisions. Some refer to the Decision Maker role as the economic buyer.
The Researcher is a role that is tasked with finding a solution to an unmet need. Simply put, they do the research to find suitable solutions. There could be multiple Researchers.
The Researcher is involved at the beginning of the buying decision and your chances are you are not aware of what they are doing.
The Technical Reviewer
The role of the Technical Reviewer is to make sure a solution is a good technical fit. Don’t read “technology” as the only technical fit. Technology is one way to evaluate technical fit. So is a financial technical fit, a regulatory technical fit, or a corporate policy technical fit.
Expect to encounter multiple Technical Reviewers (but it may not be obvious on the surface). Some refer to the Technical Reviewer role as the technical buyer.
The User Influencer
The User Influencer makes sure the solution improves the situation for everyday users.
There are typically multiple User Influencers. There can be many for the evaluation and purchase of a solution to a complex problem. Some refer to the User Influencer role as the user buyer or functional buyer.
Let Market Segments Guide You
I have a simplistic point of view that has served me well. An ideal customer profile leads to Market Segments. Market Segments lead to buying behavior.
I was taught that market segments lead to ideal customer profiles. Over time I found that looking at it from a selling point of view is a more practical and realistic approach (and produced consistently better results).
But here’s the thing you need to remember. People have buying preferences. Organizations have buying practices. Those buying practices are shaped by the norms within a Market Segment.