The Salesperson's Guide to Organizational Selling
Written by Lestraundra Alfred
How you approach making a sale will vary depending on who you’re selling to. When selling directly to a consumer, you need to know basic information about who your buyer is and what benefit they want to receive from your product.
On the other hand, when you’re selling to an organization (not just a single end-user), selling becomes far more complex.
Organizational selling is the process of selling goods to companies and organizations instead of to individual consumers. The buyers in organizational selling transactions use their purchased to support ongoing operations or to resell to their own customer base.
When selling to an organization instead of an individual, you have to consider the group you are selling to, and their production needs that go beyond the buyer’s journey. Here are some considerations to help you understand and master organizational selling.
Organizational Selling Tips
1. Your buyer’s wants are driven by their customer’s demands
In organizational selling, you aren’t selling to the final end-user of your product. You’re selling to a company that needs your product to conduct business. As a sales rep, you need to understand who their customers are and how your product fits into the big picture of their production system.
When you’re on a call trying to make an organizational sale, make sure you ask your prospect thoughtful questions to understand how they use your product, and what the impact is to the end-user. Here are some questions you can ask:
- "Who is your ideal customer?"
- "How does your ideal customer use your product?"
- "Where does XYZ (the product you’re selling) fit into your production system?"
- "How long is your typical production cycle?"
2. Orders have greater quantity and complexity
Because your buyers are purchasing goods for their own business, organizational orders are often higher value because companies buy in larger quantities than consumers. If you are selling to another business, your product is part of their supply chain and having your products on-time, in the necessary amount, and in working order is critical to the health of their business.
To be successful in organizational sales, you must be able to understand and work with the complexity that comes with these larger deals. Here are some factors to keep in mind when selling to organizations:
- Your buyer’s production schedule — Know how often they produce their product, and when they expect to receive shipments from your company to keep production going.
- Your company’s ability to supply enough product — Now that you know how much product your buyer needs from you and when they need it to ensure your company is able to meet that demand. Communicate early and often if you anticipate running into any issues that could impact your buyer’s business.
- The organization’s sales process — Have a clear understanding of what their company’s sales funnel looks like. Do they meet their sales goals? Are they planning to scale and increase production in the coming months to meet demand? These factors may impact how they buy from you.
3. Your buyer may have quality and safety requirements for their products
When selling to organizations, you also want to be mindful and aware of any quality or safety requirements that may be in place for your buyer’s products. As you work with your prospect to make the sale, seek to understand what their requirements are to ensure your product can help them maintain their quality and safety standards.
For example, if you work for a snack company and sell to a retailer that only sells food made from organic ingredients, knowing what their quality standards are and making sure your product adheres to them can be a valuable selling point.
4. Your buyer is looking for the best value
As we mentioned above, when companies purchase goods and services, the complexity and dollar values are higher than when consumers purchase goods and services. For any business, the bottom line is a top priority, and the organizations you are selling to are no different. In order for a company to be profitable, their expenses cannot be higher than revenue. That is why organizational buyers are often looking for the best value when making purchases.
That isn’t to say that price is all that matters to buyers, or that the lowest price always wins the sale. It does mean that purchases made on behalf of a company are expected to deliver a return on investment. In other words — your organizational buyers are spending money in hopes of making it back (and then some).
When going through the sales process, articulate the value your product can provide each step of the way. Whether your product can help your buyers save time, preserve equipment, or reduce costs in the long run, your ability to demonstrate how your product can help your buyer’s bottom line can be a major selling point.
Now let’s walk through some examples of what organizational selling looks like in real life.
Organizational Selling Examples
Let’s say you work for a company that sells safety glasses to aerospace organizations. When the aerospace company buys your safety glasses, they give them to their employees who manufacture airplanes to protect their eyes during the production process.
As a sales rep, your job is to understand the benefits and of your product and how they help your buyer succeed in their area of business. In this scenario, you are responsible for understanding what the safety requirements are of the organizations you are selling to, and you need to be able to speak to your product’s ability to meet these requirements.
If while selling the safety glasses to the aerospace company you can provide reliable information about the quality and safety of your products, and share quantitative data from previous sales such as having a prior customer see a reduction in workplace injury by using your product. While yes, the company can expect to spend money on your product, they can also expect higher productivity from employees who can perform their jobs with a reduced risk of injury. These are key talking points that can demonstrate value for the organization you’re selling to.
For another example, let’s say you work for a company that sells security software to small businesses. Your software aims to keep your buyer’s company computer systems safe and protected from viruses and security breaches.
In this role, you need to understand what the common security threats are to companies of similar size and industry to your buyer. Additionally, performing research to understand how much a threat or breach could cost your buyer if it were to happen can provide a valuable data point to demonstrate the value of your offering.
With adequate research and a good understanding of your buyer’s industry, you can succeed in organizational selling.