I'd be interested to hear people's take on having multiple EB's in your deal.
I always thought there was one TRUE EB in a deal, but I might be wrong when talking about large, complex deals.
What are your thoughts?
By definition there can only be one ultimate Economic Buyer. There is always one person that has ultimate, final say on the go/no-go decision for the buyer. However, in a complex deal you may interact with multiple people who have some financial responsibility. These are sort of "gatekeeper" Economic Buyers - folks whose job is to make the interim decisions along the way to the final decision. These early gatekeeping EBs might have departmental financial authority and they can decide whether or not to approve a purchase at some level. The ultimate EB has the additional power and responsibility to decide where to move budgets. The real EB can decide to shift the entire bucket of budget away from your initiative to some other unrelated corporate initiative. This is why it's so important to connect with that final EB early and to understand what's most important to them at a strategic level.
You can certainly close a deal without connecting to the ultimate EB but you can easily lose a deal that way, too. The EB in front of you may decide in your favor but the ultimate EB may have been convinced to abandon that initiative in favor of some other strategic priority.
Hope that all makes sense.
Great clarity here Pouli!. One other thought on George's question. Remember that in a really complex situation, the Economic Buyer's perspective can change, perhaps as a result of us expanding their understanding of the scope and impact of their business issues. Sometimes when this happens a new EB emerges because the change in perspective results in a shift in ownership and decision rights relative to the business issue. This does not mean we now have multiple EB's though... we have a new one!
When this happens, like it our not we have now found ourselves wading into of the customer's political landscape. Has this transfer of "ownership" helped the situation or made it a bit more complicated. While potentially confusing, figuring this out quickly is critical to be sure your value proposition is still aimed at the most compelling priorities of the true EB... which is much more effective than mistakenly trying to bring value to "multiple EB's"!
I'll add 2 nuances, coming from the perspective of having taught a variation of the EB definition (Strategic Selling in the 90s).
1 - That EB definition was "Only one per sale, but may be a set of people, such as a team, board, or committee"
We also taught 'there is always one person more equal than the rest' on a committee, and it was better to treat all of them like the EB vs guessing on one and being wrong.
If there is a committee or group, that adds importance to getting a detailed understanding of the Decision Process, as that can indicate the true EB.
2 - You aren't always competing with an apples to apples solution. The alternatives for the customer will each have their own EB, and that may be a different person. You could argue about people being an EB or a TB in a scenario like this, but the point isn't to have 100% accuracy in your methodology usage - it's to win the right deals and use the process/methodology to improve the actions you are taking to win.
I LOVE the question and am intrigued by the nuances of everyone's answers. In my experience, it is not uncommon for multiple buyers but ultimately one Economic Buyer.
That being said, it's essential to identify and understand their individual needs and concerns. By doing so, you can tailor your approach and messaging to address their specific pain points and priorities, increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome.
It's also important to note that even if there is a single person with the authority to make the final decision, they may still be influenced by other organizational stakeholders. Be sure to identify and engage with each relevant stakeholder to ensure that you address their concerns and build consensus around your solution. (The mantra aligns perfectly here to make sure you heard and understood them correctly).
While there may be cases where a single person is the sole economic buyer, in large and complex deals, I found it more likely that there will be multiple buyers involved (like a Committee, a Board, or even Leaders of multiple teams splitting the cost of the solution to come to a consensus). Therefore, it is essential to identify and engage with all relevant stakeholders to ensure a successful outcome.
Great thread here! I think this would make for a good podcast episode.