Functionally Diverse Buying Teams Are Less Dysfunctional

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As my readers know, I spend a lot of time exploring the ups and downs of technology buying in lots of different dimensions.   The most interesting things that come out of this often challenge opinions and perceptions that are treated as "general facts." For example, many sales teams feel it is more valuable to have a buying team that has limited participation by different groups within the organization.  The thinking is that more groups mean more challenges to "control the deal."   I would call this "the illusion of control." While you could call this is a strategy, it does not reflect the reality of many customer situations---and even if it does, I'm not sure it should be a cause for excitement (note:  this is not to say that you want to pursue deals that have lots of different functional groups with different goals--that is a much bigger and different challenge).  In fact, it could be a recipe for more delays and less successful results (for you and your prospects). In our much cited (by me and others) research into high quality technology deals, we looked at the composition of buying teams from a standpoint of functional groups that participated.   The pattern was obvious--as the number of functional groups involved grew, the likelihood of a high quality deal increased).   [caption id="attachment_2629" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Source: Gartner, Inc.[/caption] That data caused me to dig a little bit deeper, and some other interesting ideas were revealed: Buying team size did not change dramatically as companies went from 1 to 3 groups participating.  The team did grow as it expanded to 4 or more. In every significant category of "possible delays to the buying process" we studied, The occurrence of significant delays DECREASED as functional group participation increased In terms of overall time to purchase, there were not significant differences based on team sizes. What this says to me: Savvy enterprises form teams that include experts from different areas.  They empower those experts to evaluate purchases through their lens and "own" aspects of the decision.    This actually speeds things up, rather than relying on someone who has to learn other issues. Since those with fewer groups have similar numbers of participants to those with 3 groups, I suspect we get a mix of groupthink and indecision---likely caused by people not being confident in their position or sure of their exact responsbilities in the buying effort. What I think vendors should do about this: First, don't be discouraged if you find broad group participation--embrace it---done right, it might accelerate your deal. Analyze your solutions and think logically about what groups in your customers should be involved and what role they should play in the decision---then make those recommendations to your prospects and help them form a more effective buying team. As the events of this year have transpired, there has been more awareness of the value of diversity in decision making.  While not as socially relevant, this info and the idea of functional diversity is yet another point in that direction. As in other aspects of life, embrace diversity and flourish.

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