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Management article
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Reference no. 1004
Authors: Thomas V Bonoma
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Published in: "Harvard Business Review - OnPoint", 2006

Abstract

When is a buyer not really a buyer? How can the best product at the lowest price turn off buyers? Are there anonymous leaders who make the actual buying decisions? As these questions suggest, the reality of buying and selling is often not what it seems. What''s more, salespeople often overlook the psychological and emotional factors that figure strongly in buying and selling. By failing to observe these less tangible aspects of selling, a vendor can lose sales without understanding why. In this article, first published in 1982, Bonoma sets up a procedure for analyzing buying decisions and tells sellers how to apply the resulting framework to specific situations. Steps in the procedure include the following: (1) first, identify the actual decision makers. Though it may come as a surprise, power does not correlate perfectly with organizational rank. The author outlines five bases of power and offers six behavioral clues for identifying the real decision makers; (2) second, determine how buyers view their self-interest. All buyers act selfishly, but they sometimes miscalculate. As a result, diagnosing motivation is one of the most difficult management tasks to do accurately. The author suggests several techniques to determine how buyers choose their own self-interest; and (3) third, gather and apply psychological intelligence. There is no formula for placing sound psychological analyses magically in the sales staff''s hands. However, the author offers three guidelines: (1) make sure that sales calls are highly productive and informative; (2) listen to the sales force; and (3) reward rigorous fact gathering, analysis, and execution - to help managers increase sales effectiveness.

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Abstract

When is a buyer not really a buyer? How can the best product at the lowest price turn off buyers? Are there anonymous leaders who make the actual buying decisions? As these questions suggest, the reality of buying and selling is often not what it seems. What''s more, salespeople often overlook the psychological and emotional factors that figure strongly in buying and selling. By failing to observe these less tangible aspects of selling, a vendor can lose sales without understanding why. In this article, first published in 1982, Bonoma sets up a procedure for analyzing buying decisions and tells sellers how to apply the resulting framework to specific situations. Steps in the procedure include the following: (1) first, identify the actual decision makers. Though it may come as a surprise, power does not correlate perfectly with organizational rank. The author outlines five bases of power and offers six behavioral clues for identifying the real decision makers; (2) second, determine how buyers view their self-interest. All buyers act selfishly, but they sometimes miscalculate. As a result, diagnosing motivation is one of the most difficult management tasks to do accurately. The author suggests several techniques to determine how buyers choose their own self-interest; and (3) third, gather and apply psychological intelligence. There is no formula for placing sound psychological analyses magically in the sales staff''s hands. However, the author offers three guidelines: (1) make sure that sales calls are highly productive and informative; (2) listen to the sales force; and (3) reward rigorous fact gathering, analysis, and execution - to help managers increase sales effectiveness.

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