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Sales Buying Roles: Influencers

RepVue Editorial Team
RepVue Editorial TeamDec 21, 2023

Understanding the influencer buyer role is crucial for sales professionals to effectively sell their products or services. Sales professionals need to identify the influencers and decision-makers within an organization and understand their specific needs and preferences. By doing so, they can tailor their sales pitch to meet the needs of each individual and increase their chances of making a sale.

Understanding Sales Buying Roles

Identifying the right buying roles is crucial for a successful outcome. Sales buying roles represent the different individuals involved in the  process of purchasing a product or service. Understanding these roles can help sales teams navigate the sales process more effectively and increase their chances of closing a deal.

Defining the Influencer Role

An influencer is an individual who has the power to sway the decision-making process but may not have the final say in purchasing a product or service. They are often subject matter experts or stakeholders who can provide valuable insights into the purchasing decision. 

Influencers can play a significant role in the sales process, as they can provide critical information to decision-makers and help shape the final outcome. Therefore, identifying and engaging with influencers is essential for sales teams to increase their chances of closing a deal.

There’s Rarely Just One Influencer

It’s important to note that while there may only be one or a few champions or decision-makers, there can be a large number of influencers in varied roles across the organization. This makes influencers one of the more challenging buying roles to accommodate — but doing so can be the difference in winning a deal.

Working with the champion buyer role to identify all the possible influencers on the purchasing decision is essential here.

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Identifying Influencers in the Buying Process

Salespeople need to understand the characteristics of an influencer and locate them within an organization.

Characteristics of an Influencer

Influencers are people who have the power to sway the decision-making process. They may not have the final say in the purchase decision, but their opinions are valued and considered. Some common characteristics of influencers include:

  • Expertise: Influencers are often subject-matter experts in a particular area. They may have extensive knowledge of the product or service being sold, or they may be experts in the industry in which the product or service is used.
  • Experience: Influencers may have years of experience in the industry or with the product or service being sold. They may have a deep understanding of the challenges and pain points that the product or service can solve.
  • Relationships: Influencers may have strong relationships with decision-makers within the organization. They may have the ear of the decision-maker and be able to sway their opinion.

Locating Influencers Within an Organization

Salespeople need to be able to locate influencers within an organization. This can be done in a number of ways:

  • Research: Salespeople can research the organization to identify key decision-makers and influencers. This can be done through online research or by talking to people within the industry.
  • Networking: Salespeople can attend industry events and conferences to network with potential buyers and influencers. This can help them build relationships and identify key players within an organization.
  • Asking Questions: Salespeople can ask questions during the sales process to identify who the key decision-makers and influencers are. They can ask who will be involved in the decision-making process and who has the final say.

By understanding the characteristics of different influencers and locating them within an organization, salespeople can increase their chances of success in the sales process. They can tailor their approach to meet the needs of the influencer and build a relationship that can help them close the deal.

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Engaging with Influencers

Engaging with influencer buying roles will look very similar to engagements with decision makers. Ultimately, you need to understand their needs and challenges, and demonstrate how the solution you have to offer address them.

Influencers Want to be Heard 

What influencer audiences value the most is being heard. They know they won’t have the final say in the purchasing decision, but that doesn’t make their needs or challenges any less important.

Second to your champion, the influencer buying role can be your biggest advocate within an organization. Building relationships with any and all influencers who are willing to meet with you to hear their needs and see how your solution can address them can help you build the critical mass necessary to close the deal.

Oftentimes just the act of having a conversation with an influencer is enough to gain their support.  During this conversation you can learn examples of specific pain-points — and you can also pick up critical information such as the language that the team uses to describe their problems or processes, and even potential stumbling blocks that you can seek to avoid.

Do Not Bypass or Ignore the Influencers

It may be tempting to go directly to the decision-makers without hearing from or working with the influencer audiences. But do not make the mistake of ignoring this buying role. 

This buying role is called influencers for a reason — they can and will have an effect on the outcome. They may not make the final decision and they may not be the end-users, but their opinions can carry a lot of weight. Many decision-makers will redirect you back to the influencers before talking with you, anyway. You might as well spend the time building solid relationships upfront and work with the decision-maker when it’s time to close.

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