Understanding The Cast Of Characters

In a complex sale, one in which there is more than one decision maker, you have four types of buyers: the Economic Buyer, the Technical Buyer, the End User and the Coach. Each of them has their role to play. The EB is concerned with the bottom line. The TB is concerned with product performance. The EU is concerned with how will this make my job easier or better. The Coach is concerned with helping you get the business. (They are your inside salesperson.)

All four of these have the capacity of “killing ” the deal. All four roles can consist of individuals or groups. Some of the players may serve in more than one role. All four of them have to be sold individually. Each of them has different “pains” or concerns. In order to make the sale, the sales person has to: identify whom the players are, develop relationships with each of them, approach and sell to each of them individually and collectively.

Failing to do this is dangerous and costly. The fallacy sales people make in situations like this is to focus on product and price. In complex selling it is NEVER about product or price. It is about process and relationship. This is the art of Strategic Selling. It is what separates the great producers from the good producers.

David M. Heuss

Years ago I had the leaders of a large Foriegn Bank in our conference room ready to place a $3M order. They wanted their product in 19 weeks. Our VP of Operations showed them in a very thorough and detailed explanation how their product would take 21 weeks. The President of the bank was outraged and they left, placing their order with another company. Six months later they started getting their product. I stopped in to see one of the VP’s. He stated that it was never about the product, quality or price but the fact that the president of the bank was embarrassed in front of his staff. I have since learned to tell the customer what they want to hear (within reason) and then work like heck to make it happen!

Steve Clark


Your comments are right on and confirm the fact that buying is more about taking care of the emotional needs of the prospect than it is about the nuts and bolts of the product or service.

Unfortunately, most sales people don’t understand that.

Harrison Greene

It would be appropriate for you to reference Miller Heiman since you so freely use their material. Strategic Selling is their book and you should have referenced it, Steve.

Steve Clark


Thank you for taking the time to police the intellectual content of my web site and my posts. I see from your position as Sr VP with National Opinion Research Center, a nonprofit group that has its headquarters on the University of Chicago’s campus, that you are well positioned to pass academic judgment on my writing.

I suspect that you have a nice salaried position not one based on commission where you actually have to sell something to get paid like me and most of the rest of my clients and readers.

I also suspect that you don’t have the sense of urgency to produce and get stuff done in order to get paid. Yes, a salaried position affords one the luxury of time that working on straight commission does not. In our haste and urgency as commissioned sales people we sometimes miss some details that given more time we might catch.

I am sure if you look closely enough you will find misspelled words, incorrect grammar and a host of other sins that academics and teachers would find appalling. I am also sure that you would not find many, if any at all, that make the income that I make. I decided a long time ago that I would rather be rich than right. Most who read this blog would agree.

Just for the record the information I reference in this blog is in the public domain and is used quite extensively by numerous other sales organizations.

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