The Decision-Making Unit in B2B: A New Perspective

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It’s the new age of businesses!

You just accessed the most comprehensive article that tackles the influence, perception, and roles of the members of a decision making unit in B2B. 

Do these questions seem familiar to you?

Why do we need a Decision Making Unit?
What are the Key Factors and Stages that affect B2B decisions?
What is Organizational Buyer Behavior?
What is the Organizational Purchasing Process?
Why is it important to understand the concept of DMU in B2B Marketing?

If they are, read on! We will give you all the answers in one place!

Phoebe Cris Cruz
Updated on:
Nov 25, 2022
New Perspective on The B2B Decision-Making Unit | AI bees

The Reason Behind its Necessity 

Have you noticed that group buying has become the standard in the B2B industry?

Perhaps you have... But,

Does your company have its own Decision Making Unit?

Maybe you do… However, 

Do you know the demand, influence, perception, and roles of the members of a decision making unit in B2B?

If you’re unsure, perhaps we can be of help. 

All your questions have been answered in this article.

1
Why do we need a Decision Making Unit?
2
Understanding the B2B Buying Process: The Key Factors and Stages that Affect B2B Decisions
3
The Organizational Buyer Behavior
4
Organizational Purchasing Process
5
Why is it important to understand the concept of DMU in B2B Marketing?
6
Decision Making Motivations and Needs
7
The Typical DMU
8
Understanding the B2B Buyer Journey
9
Mapping and Optimizing the B2B Buyer Journey
10
The Main Stages of the B2B Buyer's Journey
11
Aligning Your B2B Sales Process to The Buyer's Journey – In 6 Easy Steps
12
Final Note

Why do we need a decision making unit?

 A DMU or Decision Making Unit is a small group of people who influence a particular purchase or decision process.

How do you manage and track staff and their responsibilities?

B2C purchases are typically made by requiring; decision making units are usually the same. 

How come? 

Most B2C purchases usually comprise multiple people with different responsibilities, interests, and information needs. 

The process for completing an order involves many people that should be considered. The Decision Making Unit helps you document the different roles and allows you to perform their tasks in a team.

Understanding the B2B Buying Process: The Key Factors and Stages that Affect B2B Decisions

Can marketing experts guarantee that they know about the customer's buying journey from the very beginning?

They might say they can, but the mappings that they generally do aren't enough to provide prescriptive selling strategies.

Key Factors and Stages that Affect B2B Decisions

A conventional route map typically includes four main steps that are often depicted in funnels ranging from sourcing to delivery of the solution. 

In the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), this is called customers' purchase-from-us journey, as it focuses on supplier processes and product offerings. If we ask who is aware, it's essentially our suppliers' question. 

Is it possible that we should think about who? We continue.

The Organizational Buyer Behavior

There are more consumers in the industry beyond the typical target.

Companies and other organizations also need products for their operations. These companies, which include producers, dealers, and government and nonprofit groups, buy an array of products such as tools, raw materials, products, labor, and other services. 

These businesses that offer products and services are also seen as a target market by another business entity that can provide them with their needs.

Organisational buyer behaviour

Many companies sell directly to others. B2b markets are driven by different behavioral patterns that need understanding in two main ways: 

  • Organizational 
  • Individual

Organizational Factors

Are you familiar with the factors affected by your buying decisions?

Buying decisions, especially big expenditures, can influence an organization's strategy, priorities, and performance.

Typically, decision makers and providers competing in the business must clearly show how new purchases can help organizations achieve their mission or goal better.

organisational factors in B2B

What do companies do when they go through a quarter of poor sales performance? They may stop buying until performance increases. 

As previously mentioned, an organizational structure is a key to determining who participates in purchasing processes.

Individual Factors

B2B decision-making depends upon the individuals who participate in the selection process, and buying decisions are influenced by job position tenure, organization, and status.

decision making in B2B

Several factors can influence the motivation of the individual; it could be your professional style, reputation as a colleague, leader, or manager. 

B2B Buying Situations

Who decides what to buy depends upon circumstances. Generally used buying situations are Modified Rebuy, Straight Rebuy, and New Buys.

Buying situations in B2B

How do these buying situations affect the DMU?

1. Modified Rebuy

In the DMU, the impact of complexity will likely be LOW. You won’t need to create new or modified decision-makers. Even if the modification elements are complex, the other version could still have the same effect.

2. Straight Rebuy

These situations usually mean a much more relaxed decision process, making the unit decision-making more simplified.

3. New Buys

For New Buys, there's no existing DMU, which means it's necessary to create a new DMU.

Organizational Complexity

Since every organization is unique, it is almost impossible to classify its characteristics by influencing the purchasing decision. 

Organisational complexity 

Your business and other businesses operate in a unique manner, with unique personalities and cultural characteristics. Each corporation has its own business philosophy that guides its actions to resolve conflict, manage uncertainties and risks, seek solutions, and adapt to changes. 

In this difference, one remains constant:

Your Marketing and Sales personnel should know about your customers and prospects to be successful in navigating the product selection process.

Timing Complexity

Organization decisions typically take place for long periods of time, causing significant delays between marketers' first contact with customers and purchase decisions.

Timing complexity in DMU

While the organizational buying process may happen very quickly, your results might come in a little slower. 

Do you often change staff, notice constant leaves or turn over assignments to another person?

These are present factors that affect the longer decision cycle of B2B transactions. This impacts the process, and now the decisions are often more complicated, and new players have more pressing priorities than before.

Business Environment

B2C purchases can also affect the external business environment.

B2C Business environment 

The health of the economy may dictate if your company should proceed with major purchases or hold back until the business conditions improve. 

Don’t push ahead despite the competitive pressures that are known to create urgency within organizations regarding purchasing decisions. 

It is essential to evaluate product quality and customer needs before putting your foot out of the door.

If your company impulsively introduces the most attractive product features to its business, you might lose business. Therefore, the management may be interested in making the necessary changes to the product before putting it in the consumer markets.

Technical Complexity

Buying decisions that involve products often involve multiple complex technical aspects before you can arrive at a final decision.  

Technical complexity in B2B decision making

You might include detailed technical specifications of physical products or complex technical specifications relating to services, timelines, time, and payments. 

These purchases must fit into a larger supply chain used by your company’s operation. 

For example, a Volvo car manufacturer's buying agent can consider several technical factors for the purchase of radio systems for their vehicles.

Organizational Purchasing Process

In nearly all instances, organizational buying procedures have broader formalities than consumer purchase processes. In order to operate, businesses must make purchases.

There are multiple stages in an organizational purchasing process:

Organisational Purchasing Process

But don’t fret! 

The entire procedure is only for new tasks. 

Note that in B2B, buying decisions generally combine information with consumer purchasing. As marketing opportunities progress, the buyer seeks details to guide their choices. 

Let’s discuss each of these steps.

Problem Identification

How do you identify the problems in your business? 

The process begins when an individual recognizes an organizational problem or need that can be resolved by purchasing something or services. 

Problem recognition can arise both from external and internal stimuli.

Problem identification in Organisational Purchasing Process

Specifications of the Product

product specifications

This step entails clearly understanding the nature of the problem and outlining all of the general characteristics of the product or service that may be able to deliver the solution.

Any company must estimate the exact quantity and time frame in which the product must be provided.

General Needs Description

You’ve recognized the need. What should you do next?

Once the seller acknowledges the need, the buyer should offer a compelling explanation to ensure the buyer understands the needs as well as the available solutions the company should seek. 

With the help of your engineers, user agents, or other sales reps, buyers determine important product attributes based on their needs or preferences. But with the proper knowledge, these buyers can understand almost any product-related concern from a typical customer's perspective. 

In terms of a marketing plan, there may be the chance to affect buying decisions at this point by providing information as to how to solve the organization's problem.

Supplier Search

supplier search in Organisational Purchasing Process

This step is where you search for providers offering what you want and identify the ones with the best reputation for high quality, reputable partnerships, and good value. 

This usually involves a search on a website, visiting company websites, or sifting through reviews of a product/company before making a purchase decision.

Proposal Solicitation

At this stage of the project, qualified suppliers will make submissions.

Depending upon what type a buyer is, it is usually possible for some suppliers to simply send a catalog. The complexity of the purchases usually requires supplying a detailed proposal that specifies how the provider can address the buyer's need and includes specifications of products. 

Proposals require intensive research skills, excellent writing, and a clear presentation. The delivery of the proposed product or solution is reminiscent of a complete marketing strategy targeting an individual's client and influencing their decision making process.

Supplier Selection

Supplier selection in Organisational Purchasing Process

At this point, you are ready to Evaluate, Score, and Contact.

Buyers then review all proposals before making an appropriate decision. In assessing these vendors, a major element is evaluating them. 

Several factors influence the choice of candidates, such as 

  • the quality and credibility of the vendors' services
  • the customer references
  • the warranties

A proposal score can be calculated using different decision-making criteria. The selection processes usually narrow vendors down by selecting the top-ranked proposals.

Afterwards, the shortlisted vendors may contact the buyer either virtually or personally to discuss the proposed product or address any concerns or deficiencies that may exist.

Why is it important to understand the concept of DMU in B2B marketing?

Simple. We must share information with many people, while each could have different information requirements. 

A more complex decision-making unit is likely to be present in a typical B2B purchase of just about any scale.

DMU in B2B Marketing

At its most basic, the decision maker in a B2B environment will need to justify their decision to executives and subordinates. Apart from this, there may be a wide array of other stakeholders in the B2B market to consider, including procurement departments and group purchasing policies in larger organizations.

As a consequence, the B2B marketer must navigate a complex communication landscape.

Decision-Making Motivations and Needs

You need to understand the DMUs in a company as they are incredibly important to determine the motivation for every decision-making role. 

Individual vs corporate DMU roles

Choosing the best B2C buyer has two significant factors which must be understood by the roles:

1. Individual

2. Corporate 

These two key components affect individual rational and emotional decisions. Rational decisions are generally called left-brain thinking, while emotional decisions are often called right-brain thoughts.

I’m sure you’re interested in expounding on these two factors; stick around and keep reading.

Rational Individual Motivations (Left Brain)

In the workplace, the job must be done with utmost efficiency. 

job efficiency in the workplace

Even those in the poorest jobs can aim to meet the minimal standards set out by companies and customers. All decisions taken during a job interview have a positive impact. 

How is it possible if we use a different tool in a different field to accomplish a specific task? 

When marketers view B2B decision-making, it is crucial to understand how decision-makers are thinking.

They ask questions such as 

  • Are these needs sometimes not clearly communicated but affect a great deal in every company's decision-making?
  • Does this reason make B2B buyers risk-averse?

Rational Company Motivations (Left Brain)

It reflects the functions needed by the buyer at a level. 

These are usually clearly defined in Requests for Proposal (RFPs) and the first items that are included in the list of potential suppliers. This needs to be addressed for suppliers to be taken into consideration. 

The level of satisfaction for each supplier depends on the degree of the supplier's compliance with these standards. 

How well these criteria were met generally had the most significant effect on buying decisions which were of high cost.

Emotional Company Motivations (Right Brain)

Do you think it’s possible for companies to have feelings?

Some people say that a company does not have emotional feelings, but only its individual members do.

Emotional company motivations

In many cases, however, companies have a value that dictates their behavior or needs to meet their requirements. In modern businesses, the brand represents the most crucial asset, and consequently, decision-making takes place within this asset. 

Companies want to work alongside businesses that have similar cultures. The desire to be branded represents the feelings of the company in the company.

Emotional Individual Motivations (Right Brain)

Personal emotional motivation is hard to quantify. Generally speaking, individuals differ from others on emotional issues. 

Some factors, however, are consistent across many different individuals within the workplace, and recurring questions that they ask themselves are as follows:

  • Is this something I should be proud to say to people who don't have the same experience? 
  • What should I do if my boss is not impressed with my performance? 
  • What should I expect?

The Typical DMU

Philip Kotler

Philip Kotler, marketing professor of many books, defined six key functions of an individualized decision-making system:

six key functions of individualised DMU

Obviously, one person may have multiple roles at the same time in life. This role generally works. The simplest way for you to find out what DMUs are applicable for your market and build the model for it.

All roles should have information related to their product and service advantages. There are many essential facts that are needed for every influencer to find the optimal result in any given situation. The main factual details of the process are

1. Users

DMU Users

These people will actually be working on the purchase, and they influence the specification of the products. Customers and staff can take on the roles.

2. Initiators

DMU Initiators

Initially, players are those who see needs and solutions. It could be an attempt to increase efficiency since some equipment is going to require replacement. There can also have many factors influencing this activity.

3. Blockers

Blockers in DMU

The blockers wield considerable powers as the primary contact and source of information. They will answer your calls and letters as the main point of contact. But then they stop answering your calls, your emails unopened…they fade away! 

The deal has stalled or halted or (forbid!) ended. You've been ghosted! That's the specialty and one of the powers of the blockers. You can prevent this from happening by engaging the blockers and turning them over to your side. Make the blockers your insider, way, and weapon to get to the decision-maker.

4. Influencers

Influencers in the DMU

Influencing is someone who has a powerful influence on decision makers. They can become experts in product knowledge based on the knowledge they gained. 

A couple of examples are consulting services provided to business decision makers or other types of lawyers who provide legal assistance. 

Some of these are informal influences, like family and friends or those you meet at business associations or informal gatherings. The relationships between key stakeholders differ for each organization.

5. Gatekeepers

Gatekeepers in the DMU

A Gatekeeper is someone who presses the Stop button. 

Gatekeepers will often actively look for data and provide guidance to decision-makers at higher levels. In another instance, gatekeepers are seen to block decision-making.

6. Deciders

Deciders in the DMU

In reputable organizations, decisions can easily be reached, and the final decision must be acted upon. 

They had to take the final orders. They can act as top management agents for an organization in an industry market. 

In addition to the decision-making processes, the decision-making process may also require the approval of the buyers' gatekeeper and initial initiators for the purchase of goods.

Understanding the B2B Buyer Journey 

You can’t just go and make decisions as you please. Understanding your buyer’s journeys will lead you to better decision-making. 

Let’s expound: 

Mapping and Optimising the B2B Buyer Journey

Understand How Customers Arrive at Your Content

Content Mapping

If the sales process starts before the content, potential purchasers may use search engines to find a solution. 

Tailoring content to these search terms helps you get your audience to click through and start your B2B buyer journey. 

When we know our starting points, you can guide them towards your goal.

Track Conversions

Data is essential to determining how a customer arrives at their final destination. 

How can I improve how customers find my site? 

You can find out about gaps your company has lost quickly.

Narrow Down The Reason for Their Interest

Reason for interest in buying

The reason a customer is able to go shopping with you is primarily because of the segmentation of potential sales leads

How do you organize customers based on their intent?

The Main Stages of the B2B Buyer's Journey

Customer travel might be vague. All our customers experience their buying experiences in different ways.

When mapping your customer's journeys, it's crucial to tailor these to your target audience. We are not emphasizing too much on your ability to model your Buyer Persons.

From Stranger to Visitor: Your Prospect Doesn't Know You Yet

The buyers' journey starts when prospects are aware of a problem and motivated to find a solution. 

70% of Buyer Journeys occur before sales team involvement in sales. 

The discovery is where he uncovers this problem and finds solutions. You have to stay in contact with the prospects right from the start. It's an excellent way to strengthen relationships. 

During this discovery, your client searches for the answer and enters the Awareness stage in the sense that they gain more knowledge. Usually, you will get targeted to gain insight into your problem and demonstrate the solution to it.

From Visitor to Lead: The Prospect has Discovered You and Becomes Aware of His Problem

From visitor to lead

Upon entering the process, the potential visitor becomes a visitor, and you may have aroused his interest. 

These can happen through natural references to your content (inbound marketing) or by promoting your product or service in an outbound manner like advertising or attending an event. 

You have to educate your customers and make them understand how important their problem is and how much benefits can be gained. 

It's here that educating the prospect with a proper source of information becomes essential. This project seeks to define their problems in detail and determine how to solve them successfully. Content must be effective at getting prospective clients interested.

From Lead to Opportunity: The Lead Specifies His Project and Gets Closer to A Purchasing Decision

From lead to opportunity

The potential buyer knows that they must move, but they are not sure of any different solutions that could solve it. 

The chances of his progress on stage 1 depend on his origins and more possible solutions to his problems. He will also want to understand what options can be found for his particular situation. 

He is going to investigate information on services he can find. Yes, as long as we captured it in our discovery, you have it, but there are other solutions.

From Opportunity to Decision Maker: You Are "In"

From opportunity to decision maker

If a prospect converts to the company, they are convinced your services can help him. 

The opportunity for your business is there, and it also enters your sales process. The situation has been described as follows. Your opportunity begins with awareness. 

You've gathered information and actions throughout this journey, and your prospect is aware of your presence through the first phase. 

It is good you are at the correct place but don't let the pressure get too much into the way you're trying. Suppose you are looking at evaluating a project at this stage.

From Decision-Maker to Client: Closing the Deal

From Decision-Maker to Client

Almost everyone hates this day. It helps buyers compare solutions. 

The client has been trained well, the problem is evident, and the solution is clear. This is where you reap the seed you planted during these stages. 

If you helped a prospect with their direction, then you are already winning. You were the expert that educated him at all stages of his journey. We talk about closure methods a lot, but reality says most closing decisions occur downstream of the source.

Aligning Your B2B Sales Process to The Buyer's Journey – In 6 Easy Steps

Let's take the next step in the sales cycle to find the best solution for the buyer's journey.

1. Awareness of Need

Awareness of the need

In the beginning, the seller recognizes that they will be in trouble with it. 

They find and describe challenges or opportunities that they would like to pursue. They have questioned themselves if there's enough evidence to support them to take action.

2. Investigate Options

After buyers realize their particular pain points, you start researching. 

Buying starts by searching the broad terms of options available to them. Typically they will be interested in educational materials or testimonials. 

Upon doing research, they can begin to know if there is a problem with the criteria. At that point, they may have eliminated some vendors providing the functionality and services they are seeking, narrowing their attention only to several competing firms.

3. Committing to Change

Committing to change

A buyer can now clearly set out the target and commit to solving that problem. 

When the company narrows the choices it makes, they return to the research stage. The company's product line dives deeper and identifies its pain points. 

This time, they're aiming for a sales rep to reach out to a team of developers for further information. Eventually, other players will appear in this regard. So more bias and differences of opinion are brought together.

4. Solution Selection

The purchaser must now secure the approval of senior executives. Your customers can start using content that includes pricing, ROI, and profitability in their marketing campaigns to help justify their investments.

5. Validate Choice

Validate choice in buyer’s journey

The buyers have already chosen the solution category. When upper leadership supports this, the customer can select the right product and make an order. 

At that point, it's essential for them to think about preparation, implementation, rapid start costs, and customer support. Suddenly customers start thinking about costs. 

They are concerned about the danger that nobody should do or that someone will pick the right thing. Customers want assurance that the implementation is quick.

6. Purchase

Buyer’s journey Purchase 

Eventually, after months of searching, your buyers have decided on a seller and are ready to make a purchase. It's time for documents, planning, and execution.

Price and terms are discussed at this point. Customers will use price negotiations to mitigate risks and limit financial exposure.

While procurement, finance, and other stakeholders compare the implicit and explicit costs associated with your solution, your buyer will continue to explore best practices, implementation guides, and other resources to ensure they're ready to go with their new solution.

Final Note

Everyone has a role to play. 

So make sure you gather valuable perspective as you build your brand in your target market. In short, don't disregard; instead, seek always to collaborate. 

To close a deal, it is necessary to know more about where you are right now and where you are trying to go. And all the stages in between. It is a challenge for most salespeople to gather intelligence on their prospective clients. It is not easy to spotlight the identities of those elusive decision-makers. 

The best resource for these is those you may have been trying your best to avoid. So change course, change your perspective. Don't choose between, instead embrace all. We hope that now you have a better understanding of the decision-making unit in the B2B industry.

Indeed, it is a powerful marketing management tool that can guide you to reach the right people and hit your goals!

Need more help? Please don’t hesitate to contact AI-Bees. Our team of award-winning experts is just on the other side of the line, all willing to help you.

Related Reads:

Phoebe Cris Cruz

Phoebe is a Senior Account Manager for AI bees. When she is not nourishing our relationship with clients, Phoebe is writing informative articles about sales, marketing and more. When she isn’t doing either of these, she’s singing for her kids or tuning down with them and a horror flick.

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