Post #6: In which we help you pitch to multiple buyers

The most fundamental prospecting advice that we ever give is that each mail should read personally.

It should be person to person.

And one to one.

But, of course, most B2B prospecting pitches are no longer one seller to one buyer.

They are increasingly characterised by the buying decision being made across multiple departments, levels of seniority and often need to marry differing – sometimes contradictory – interests and needs.

This presents a complex logistical challenge in terms of the selling process from the very get go: so how should you be pitching to multiple prospects from the same organisation?

We’ve looked in some detail at the problems and opportunities that having multiple buyers can present. In our review of the best way to approach this when selling products and services we noted that:

  • More than 85% of B2B sales involve multiple buyers
  • The average number of people involved in B2B purchases is expected to hit 10+ by the end of 2020
  • And 84% of buying journeys take longer than expected

According to the CEB, this increase in decision makers has moved the likelihood of a sale from:

  • 81% (when a single person makes a purchase decision)
  • To 55% – 60% (when a second or third person is thrown into the buying mix)
  • And down to as low as 31% (when six or more buyers are involved)

We also went on to look at the best tactics to approach this situation with…

… But (‘D’oh!) we didn’t consider where it all begins: prospecting. Let’s take a look at how you can prospect successfully when contacting multiple buyers.


Don’t cross reference

A common question that we’re asked by clients runs along the lines of, ‘If I’m contacting sales, customer service and finance, should I let each of them know about my other approaches?’

We’d advise not.

Your prospecting mail is short and focussed. Its goal is simple: to be offered the space to strike up a conversation.

Anything that prevents it being short, focussed and direct is a barrier to success.

So, when you consider mentioning in it that an approach has been made to others you run the risk of:

  • Making this seem like a complicated proposition (you lose 25% of potential leads there and then)
  • Risking diverting the prospect’s resulting action from setting up a meet/phone call to chatting to colleagues – and then losing sight of making that contact as the busy week’s agenda takes over (bang goes another chunk of leads)
  • Offering the out that someone else in the company will pick up this opportunity (yikes, your potential leads are being shaved close to zero)
  • Falling prey to interpersonal or interdepartmental rivalries and squabbles before you’ve even firmly embedded your proposal (and so sinks HMS Prospect)

In fact, the only consideration you should give to the other recipients is that there is a good chance that prospects within the same company may share their mails.

Which leads us to…

Don’t adopt a blanket approach

A blanket approach will smother your fire.

Perhaps the lesser risk is the one that is mentioned above. But, just imagine how each will feel if they find out they have received a carbon copy mail. All of a sudden, your personal, considered approach becomes a spam mail probably sent to thousands.

And you lose all credibility.

The greater, and far more damaging risk, however, is that your mail cannot directly speak to the needs and problems of each individual if it has to be contorted and diluted down to try and speak to many different people.

What will spark interest in the C-suite is very different from what Heads of Department will have immediate concerns about. And similarly, what appeals to HR about a solution will radically differ from what the IT team, marketing team and finance team have front of mind.

There is no way that a blanket mail will cover – it can only smother.

Each prospecting mail should carefully address the concerns of each prospect. And for that you are going to need as many mails as you have prospects.

Do follow up

Of course, it’s not that you are ultimately attempting to silo each decision maker by keeping them strictly separated.

It’s more that you are looking for a way in.

And more doors will open once you are through the main gate.

Pursue your pitch with prospects who bite, but do be sure to circle back and include all decision makers as things progress – this is something we go into more detail on in our ‘Too many buyers’ series of posts.

Keeping HMS Prospect afloat amid a sea of buyers

To summarise: when prospecting to multiple buyers in the same organisation, treat each communication as if it is unique.

Because, it is.

Understanding what makes each prospect tick, what keeps them awake at night and what makes them sit bolt upright and reach for the phone, is what will float your boat.

Other posts in this series include:

  1. Set the scene for success in any situation
  2. How to fill already occupied space by another supplier or solution
  3. Create your own space in a crowded market
  4. How to make complex pitches
  5. Stir the embers where an immediate need for your solution is lacking

Successful prospecting!
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