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restrict access to important information, salespeople are tempted to bypass the purchasing agents and make direct con- tact. Recall from Chapter 2 that this is called backdoor selling and is risky. Backdoor selling can result in salespeople being excluded from sales opportunities. In Chapter 7 we discuss ethical strategies that salespeople can use to deal with this issue. DECIDERS In any buying center one or more members of the group, deciders, make the final choice. Determining who actually makes the purchase decision for an organization is often difficult. For straight rebuys the purchasing agent usually selects the vendor and places the order. However, for new tasks many people influence the decision, and several people must approve the decision and sign the purchase order. In general, senior executives get more involved in important purchase decisions that have a greater effect on the per- formance of the organization. For example, the chief executive officer (CEO) and chief financial officer (CFO) play an important role in purchasing a telephone system because this network has a significant impact on the firm's day-to-day operations. To sell effectively to organizations, salespeople need to know the people in the buying center and their involvement at different steps of the buying process. Consider the following situation. Salespeople selling expensive intensive-care mon- itoring equipment know that a hospital buying center for the type of equipment they sell typically consists of physicians, nurses, hospital administrators, engineers, and purchasing agents. Through experience, these salespeople also know the relative importance of the buying center members in various stages of the purchasing process (see Exhibit 3.3). With this information the intensive-care equipment salespeople know to concentrate on physicians throughout the process, nurses and engineers in the middle of the process, and hospital administrators and purchasing agents at the end of the process. SUPPLIER EVALUATION AND CHOICE At various steps in the buying process, members of the buying center evaluate alternative methods for solving a problem (step 2), the qualifications of potential suppliers (step 4), proposals submitted by potential suppliers (step 5), and the performance of products purchased (step 8). Using these evaluations, buyers select potential suppliers and eventually choose a specific vendor. The needs of both the organization and the individuals making the decisions affect the evaluation and selection of prod- ucts and suppliers (see Exhibit 3.4). Often these organizational and personal needs are classified into two categories: Exhibit 3.3 Importance of Hospital Buying Center Members in the Buying Process for Intensive-Care Monitoring Equipment Step in Buying Process Physicians Nurses Hospital Administrators Purchasing Engineers Agents Need recognition (step 1) High Moderate Low Low Low Definition of product type (step 2) High High Moderate Moderate Low Analysis of proposal (step 5) High Moderate Moderate High Low Proposal evaluation and supplier selection (step 6) High Low High Low Moderate 72 CHAPTER 3: Buying Behavior and the Buying Process

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