The process and the acquisition cost of a customer in the business to business market (B2B) is the weakest part in the evaluation of the business plan.
Most entrepreneurs will make that mistake, which is to think that all the sales will be like the first one.
To have an idea, to choose a market, is usually easy. However, define the sale cycle, define the JURY and discover how it works, remains a weak point for many entrepreneurs. It is often because of that point that many projects never work, even if the idea was really good.
But why should I care about the Jury and what exactly is a Jury? A Jury is, in fact, a projection of a legal concept representing a group of people who takes a decision on a point that is presented to them. People who form this jury get their power from their function and from the internal business practices of the company they work for. But how can you know who is who?
At this point, it is about experience and experimentation. There is some profiles that we usually find in a Jury : the innovator, the influencer, the decision maker and the person with the right of veto. In some companies there may be more, but we will focus on these definitions.
Sometimes, a person can have more than one of these qualities, which is really good for you, but it is uncommon. First of all, you need to find your intern customer, usually the innovator. It is the one who is ready to go with you, because you solve one of his problems.
The next step is to find a supporter, meaning the influencer. This person will not benefit directly from your product, but sees a corporate benefit. He will be ready to support the innovator in its approach; at least he will not block him.
But who takes the final decision? When is the decision taken? What is the frequency of the decisions making? What are the informations that the innovator and the influencer need to support this decision to the Jury? Those questions are important and, too often, projects that a salesperson thought he would see happen soon never materialize, because this process was not followed.
In the end, you need to know if the decision maker is a person or if it is the Jury. You also need to find who, in this Jury, has a right of veto. This person, who usually works in finance or in senior management, could veto right the project for reasons of budget, prioritization or missing resources.
I can hear some of you thinking: how can I know all of this? Usually you cannot know everything, however if you don’t ask anything to your client, you won’t know nothing more. The question is always hard, but you better ask than ignore.
My tip for anyone looking for salesperson: choose someone known by the members of the Jury because he already sold another product. That remains the shortest path.