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Using a DMU or Buying Cenrre in CRM

As part of our “CRM in practice series” we thought it useful to talk about the DMU or Buying centre and its use in Customer Relationship Management software.

The Buying Centre

This is not a new concept, since the Buying Centre originates in the DMU (Decision Making Unit) taught in Marketing by Kotler since the 1960’s when B2B or Industrial Marketing as it was sometimes referred to then was not as glamorous as FMCG marketing for say Procter and Gamble with their big TV advertising campaigns.

In those days, B2B was considered a somewhat less interesting marketing role. But, in the last 10-15 years that has changed with the advent of Google and the Digital Age.

Within Business to Business selling the DMU has been a useful concept when explaining how an organisation buys. The caveat is that this concept really works best if there is a complex or group based purchasing process and if the opportunity is of sufficient value.

As a sales person, you need to know the internal decision making process and how each member interacts with the other members. This is standard sales training and the methodology and concept is now taught by everyone from Tack International to Sandler and of course Miller Heiman.

Typically, when selling to an organisation, the various contacts fit a number of roles, classically these may include:-

• Gatekeepers who often control access to the team and may limit what is passed on.

• Initiators who have recognised the issue and are starting search for a solution.

• Influencers could Finance for example or could be external consultants.

• Decision Makers often but not always MD or senior Directors.

• Buyers who may often be the professional purchasing team.

• Users or Stakeholders who will use your product/service.

There are lots of permutations and descriptions and any one person can have more than one role, so a Managing Director for instance could be a Decision Maker but will sometimes be a User of the CRM system reviewing higher level Reports or Dashboards tracking KPI’s. or indeed, actually updating their own meeting notes and activities.

Essentially the Buying Centre concept means you are tracking and recognising varying degrees of influence and also of authority in the decision making process. This can be the secret to closing more sales.

The Buying Centre in CRM

Most systems for the SME sector are targeting business rather than individual consumers (although a case could be made here for example with large ticket items or financial services with the family as the DMU).

Since as the seller you need to understand which role each person holds or adopts and who is influencing who this concept holds significance relevance to today’s sales professionals when using their own CRM software.

Since I have been in CRM from the late 90’s, the visualisation of this process has been a challenge to the software vendors, but still of intense interest to many sofftware buyers and over the years there have been numerous attempts at showing this.

For many applications a starting point still widely used is the use of Referral tabs or Connection Lists with Roles within an Sales Opportunity. Until recently and for many applications still, the visualisation of this concept has been challenging or was solved by more expensive third party add-ons. Now, though this is entering mainstream CRM and as an example of the new cloud based functionality, Pipeliner CRM is one of the innovative applications to include this visualisation as standard, interestingly at both the Organisational level and at the Opportunity level and this is illustrated below.

Whilst not quite the Holy Grail, this feature has been frequently asked for and expected by clients for nearly 20 years going back to the Tracker contact management application of the 1990’s which actually included this feature. But strangely this feature is only now in a few mainstream applications like SAGECRM, although many applications do still need additional third party add-in modules to show this in a visual format which is what end users want and expect.

Alongside the need to understand your Sales Velocity (see recent blog), in nearly all B2B sales, invariably more than one person is involved and if the value is big, the Sales Professional and Sales Management will benefit by seeing this Buying Centre visually since it is much easier to comprehend the inter-relationships with the Opportunity.

The Future

Going forward, we would expect innovative systems to adopt this as a standard feature since the technology is there and with LinkedIn and other Social Media integrations now able to bring in the photo’s of people, this becomes a very powerful tool.

If your sales team are involved in complex sales, make sure you understand if the visual Buying Centre is a feature which is needed and will help your sales team to graphically and easily reveal the key connections helping you close more deals.

If this is an important feature for next system why not download our latest CRM checklist which can help you understand which applications best meet your needs.


24th March 2016