POV: Harvard Business Review – Making the Consensus Sale

Making the Consensus SalePoint-of-View: Making the Consensus Sale

Harvard Business Review (HBR) March 2015


  • On average 5.4 people have to formally sign-off on B2B purchases.
  • Best way to build customer consensus isn’t to do a better job of connecting individual customer stakeholders to the supplier but to more effectively connect customer stakeholders to one another.
  • Problem definition and solution identification are much more difficult for buyers to reach consensus than supplier selection. Suppliers focus too much on supplier selection.
  • By the time suppliers get engaged (supplier selection) customer consensus/alignment has already fallen apart.
  • Buyers are twice as willing to buy than they are to advocate on behalf of a supplier.
  • Personal value (career advancement, recognition, etc.) is five times more likely to promote advocacy than business value (ROI, TCO, etc.).
  • Creating customer consensus starts by creating common ground through common vocabulary among customer stakeholders (CXO, End-Users, etc.).
  • Make sales and marketing aids supplier neutral so advocates can use to quickly and easily build consensus/alignment among key stakeholders.
  • Sales and marketing must figure out how to truly work together to make the required changes before their competition does.

Our Point of View:

  • The number of stakeholders directly and indirectly involved with major purchases will continue to increase.
  • Problem definition (Problem Space) is by far the most difficult phase for customer stakeholders.
  • The same vocabulary, standards, and tools must be used to connect customer stakeholders with each other and their suppliers.
  • Customers want and are willing to accept help with problem identification and solution selection.
  • A shift in mind-set along with an immediate investment in skill-sets and tool-sets by sales AND marketing must be made to make the required changes.

pdfMaking the Consensus Sale

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