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influence a purchase decision by indicating that the company's products would sell better if they included a particular supplier's components. Architects can play a critical role in the purchase of construction material by specifying suppli- ers, even though the ultimate purchase orders will be placed by the contractor responsible for constructing the building. Influence can be technical, such as in product specifications, but can also involve finances and how a decision is made. Miller and Heiman, two noted sales consultants, assert that there are four types of influencers. One is the economic influencer, or person who is concerned about the financial aspects of the decision. Another is the user, which we will discuss later. A third is the technical influencer, a person who makes sure the technical requirements (including logis- tics, terms and conditions, quality measurements, or other specifications) are met. Miller and Heiman state that these people usually have the authority only to say no (meaning the salesperson did not meet the specifications, so the pro- posal is rejected), so they play a gatekeeping role (discussed more in a moment). They don't have the authority, though, to say yes to the purchase. The fourth role or type of influencer is the coach. The coach is someone in a buying organiza- tion who can advise and direct you, the salesperson, in maneuvering through the buying process in an effective fashion, leading to a sale. In addition, this person may advocate for you in private conversations among members of the buying center. As you can imagine, finding a coach is an important factor when decision processes are complex and involve a lot of people. 13 GATEKEEPERS Gatekeepers control the flow of information and may limit the alternatives considered. For example, the quality control and service departments may determine which potential suppliers are qualified sources. Purchasing agents, also called buyers or supply chain managers, often play a gatekeeping role by determining which potential suppliers are to be notified about the purchase situation and are to have access to relevant information. In some companies, all new contacts must be made through purchasing agents. They arrange meetings with other gatekeepers, influencers, and users. Such gatekeeping activity is not a power play; rather, it ensures that purchases are consolidated under one contract, thus reducing costs and increasing quality. These single contracts are growing in popularity as a way to reduce costs globally. 14 When purchasing agents The buying center for radiology equipment includes (clockwise from upper left) the technicians operating the equipment (users), the radiologists (gatekeepers and influencers), and the hospital administrator (the decision maker). (top left): ©Plush Studios/Blend Images LLC; (top right): Image Source, all rights reserved.; (bottom): Steve Debenport/Getty Images CHAPTER 3: Buying Behavior and the Buying Process 71

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