How to identify influencers in the purchasing process

I once heard it said that to change a man’s mind, you have to change the mind of the man next to him first. It is no secret that the opinions, feedback and recommendations of those we trust always carry much weight.  

Purchasing decisions are rarely made by one or even two people. There will be many influencers involved – each will have their own agenda, make their own judgements and form their own decisions. There may well be an ultimate decision maker, but at every stage of the buying cycle there will be people that exert influence, to a lesser or greater degree.

So, if the opinions of influencers have so much value, it makes sense that as a seller you need to identify who these people are.

Who are they and how much influence do they have?

The number and type of influencers, the roles they play and the level of influence they exert will vary widely from prospect to prospect. However in general terms there are five key influencer types you need to be aware of:

  1. User Influencers: the people or teams that will ultimately utilise or benefit from your product or service
  2. Financial Influencers: Accountants, financial controllers and CFO’s; those looking at Profit & Loss , or who may ultimately give final approval to buy
  3. Researcher Influencers: people who have been tasked with scouring the market for possible solutions to a problem faced by their organisation, and presenting the options
  4. Reference Influencers: people within or outside of the organisation that have worked with you before. They could reside at any level, and could be a business partner, supplier or end customer. What they have to offer is valuable first-hand testimony
  5. Market Influencers: external reviewers, journalists, bloggers, market commentators. One good or bad word from them in a public forum can be very persuasive

One thing to remember – they don’t have to be a person of influence to be influential. Look inside, outside and all around the box. Don’t just head straight to the top.

As our guest blogger Frank Bennett recently discussed, he was once found by a social seller despite the fact his profile wasn’t openly linked to the organisation in question. He was not a CEO, VP or MD; he was a consultant, but a highly influential one.  A smart social seller looked beyond his job title, identified him as an influencer and understood that he was the right person to talk to about the solution they had to offer, and as a result won the contract. That social seller was one of our own – we do actually practice what we preach!

So how to spot them in the crowd?

Social media has made these people more readable. There is so much information out there that can help you understand who the influencers are, how much weight their opinion carries and how they can help you make a sale. The challenge, of course, is sorting through the white noise and uncovering the insight you need in order to reach out to them.

To find out how Artesian is making this process simple for the most successful social sellers click here.

Of course if you want to really disrupt the status quo, the best way is to become an influencer in your own right. Take a look at our next blog for more on how to establish and exert your own influence.

Follow @ArtesianS for the latest thinking on sales intelligence and customer engagement and how to become a Sales Leader.