gatekeepersThe buying decision in a B2B sale is influenced by many people, and possibly groups. This is because business (B2B) marketing & selling are very sophisticated processes.

This is my third article on the four influencers in a B2B sale. In the first two articles we discussed who two of the influencers are in a B2B sale. These two influencers are;
1. The Financial Influencer and
2. The User Influencer.

This article is about a group we all normally detest, because they can block us; the gatekeepers.

The Gatekeepers
The gatekeeper can also be referred to as the technical buying influence. The role of the gatekeeper is to screen out or block your proposal. There are many groups who may be gatekeepers. They include the following.
• The finance department
• The legal group – may be inside and outside the company
• Human resources
• The IT department
• Engineering
• Operations
• Purchasing

In today’s connected world, where the buyer has most of the power, another gatekeeper has sprung up. In today’s B2B business environment, the gatekeeper is often a researcher.

More often, these days, companies use a research team to vet possible solutions to their problems. Keep in mind that most B2B companies are about 50% of the way through the buying process, before you even know they are looking.

There could be anywhere from one to many researchers on a team. They usually consist of people from different departments that will be affected by the possible solution. (See above groups)

When they search for a solution, they will visit most or all of the online platforms your company has. These platforms will include your website, and social media sites that your company and executives belong to.

As you can see, depending on the technical aspects of your product and service, there are many groups that can be involved. Also, the impact your proposal has on the organization will determine how many of the above groups will get involved.

These people generally will only be involved for a short time, and then not be involved at all after your proposal has been accepted. The keys for these groups are the following.
• They judge the measurable and quantifiable aspects of your proposal.
• They are mostly box tickers. They have certain specifications that have been set up beforehand, and they tick off whether you meet those specs or not.
• They can and will make recommendations
• They cannot say yes, but they can say no, and their vote carries quite a bit of weight.

It is often the users that develop many of the specifications for a proposal. This group acts as the gatekeepers to ensure you have met those specifications.

You will generally run across gatekeepers in RFP situations.

You need to understand who these groups are. It is often difficult to get to know them personally, because they are usually only involved for a short time during the proposal phase.

However, you need to be aware of their influence, and if possible make every effort to meet and understand how they operate during the decision cycle.