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Selling to a Buying Team
By Timothy F. Bednarz, PhD, American Management Development Group

What has been your experience in dealing with team decisions? Are they increasing with your customers?

More companies are requiring buying teams/committees made up of a cross section of employees to sign off on major purchases. It's an effort companies are making to protect themselves from making wrong decisions. It lowers the risk and spreads the liability for a wrong decision across the group.

In some companies, teams are formally structured while in others, they are so informal the company would never designate it a team. Consequently, it's more difficult to determine the decision maker because it's less common in many buying situations to find only one.

Implications to the Sales Person

The buying authority in many companies has shifted from an individual buyer to a buying team or committee, yet many former buyers are reluctant to admit their authority has eroded. This is problematic for the sales person attempting to ascertain the decison maker and assuring themselves they are dealing with an individual with the authority to make the final decision. Asking a prospect if they are the person who can authorize this purchase is not only ineffective, it's insulting, especially if the person is not the decision maker.

The key is recognizing that more purchasers are soliciting input from others within their organization. Many of these individuals have a great deal of influence, far more than an outsider would imagine.

The simplest approach to determine the decision making and influence structure is to ask the prospect how he or she gathers information within the company. Determine who is consulted before a decision on the parameters of a product are specified and ask to interview these people. If you still have doubts about what is going on in a prospect

Copyright ©2001 by Timothy F. Bednarz,PhD All Rights Reserved

Timothy F. Bednarz, PhD is the Principal Partner of the American Management Development Group. He can be reached at 800.654-4935 or Find out more at

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