B2B Selling Process

B2BSelling Process

Thispaper is an analysis of the selling process in the case studyinvolving Cloverleaf plc. The case study is about Mr. Goodman,Cloverleaf’s sales agent who fails to close a selling deal withCommercial SA. To analyze Mr. Goodman’s selling process, this paperwill discuss the eight-phased organizational buying process relatingeach phase to Commercial SA’s buying procedure. Additionally, thispaper will discuss the five-phased salesperson’s selling process,closely relating each phase to Goodman’s selling procedure. Tobegin, this paper will shed light on the organizational buyingprocess.

OrganizationalBuying Process

Accordingto Hernes (2014), corporations that supply goods or services todiverse marketplaces are themselves in need of goods and services toeffectively run their commercial processes. These corporationspurchase a wide variety of products, including raw materials,equipment to process the raw materials, labor, and otherproduction-associated services. Therefore, in as much as purchasedecisions are a crucial factor for consumers, the same circumstancerelates to organizational purchasing decisions. For instance, apurchasing agent for Mercedes Benz must consider many technicalfactors before deciding which radio will be sitting in the dashboardof the company’s latest model. Some organizations exclusively sellto other organizations excluding the consumer buyers in the process(Grønhaug, 2013). Despite the huge significance of organizationalmarkets, fewer studies have been steered on the dynamics that swaytheir purchasing decisions than on dynamics that sway consumerpurchasing behaviors (Mullins &amp Walker, 2013).

However,Butt (2016) notes that there are factors that distinguishorganizational purchasing behaviors from consumer purchasingbehaviors. First, many persons are engaged in making organizationalpurchasing decisions. Second, organizational purchasing behavior isgreatly swayed by rational and quantitative benchmarks prevailing inmost administrative decisions. Third, Butt (2016) points out thatorganizational purchasing decisions frequently involve theconsideration of a wide array of complex technical dimensions.Revisiting the Mercedes Benz illustration, the company’s purchasingagent has to consider factors like the car’s acoustic interior,electronic system, and the shape of the dashboard. All these concernsare separate from organizational dynamics that have to be consideredas well. Fourth, organizational process of making a decision oftenspans a long duration of time, creating a lag between the initialproblem identification and the purchasing decision. This isattributed to the fact that there are many technical organizationalfactors to be considered before arriving at an agreeable purchasingdecision (Westman, 2016). Lastly, according to the author,organizational buying decision making is different from consumerdecision making in the sense that organizations cannot be groupedinto categories like consumer markets. According to Chaston (2015),this is because each firm has a unique model of functioning, which isinfluenced by company-specific internal and external factors. Hence,organization purchasing decisions cannot be categorized into groups.

Itis the opinion of Williams (2016) that there are three distinguishedorganizational purchasing circumstances: modified rebuy, straightrebuy, and new task. Straight rebuy is the easiest organizationalbuying circumstance where an organization repurchases a good orservice devoid of any form of adjustments. As the name suggests,modified rebuy is the purchasing circumstance where a business seeksto either modify product prices or specifications (Chaston, 2015). Inthis scenario, a company negotiates for an improvement of products orservices to be purchased. The new task purchasing state of affairs iswhere a company considers ordering a new product or service as afirst time purchase (Williams, 2016). Like in the case of CommercialSA, the company is planning on buying a new bottling line in order toexpand. For that reason, Commercial SA’s purchasing situationbelongs to the new task category. In accordance to Hernes (2016),companies arrive at purchasing decisions in the backdrop of either ofthese circumstances. Nonetheless, the author notes that a companythat successfully executes its purchasing decision does so throughwhat she refers to as the eight phases/stages of organizationalbuying. The eight steps through which organizations execute theirpurchasing decisions are:

  1. Need recognition

Grønhaug(2013) observes that the organizational purchasing processinaugurates when an individual in a firm identifies a need whosegratification is achieved only by the procurement of a good orservice. Need identification occurs as a result of organizationalstimuli which can either be internal or external (Albro, 2015).Relating this phase to the case study, the technical director ofCommercial SA recognizes the fact that in order for his firm tofruitfully expand there is the “need” to purchase a new bottlingline. To this effect, Commercial SA, through Dr. Leblanc as a“pinpointing” agent, has decorously applied the first phase ofthe organizational purchase process.

  1. Need Description

Afteridentifying a need, a buying firm’s decision makers (executives)meet to coin suitable buying decisions by putting some parameters andfurther refinement into what needs to be purchased. Working togetherwith purchasing agents, engineers, users, and other stakeholders, abuying organization can identify and prioritize the most importantneed characteristics and features (Woodside &amp Baxter, 2013).Relating this phase to the case study, Commercial SA has specificneed descriptions, evident from the fact that it chooses to purchaseone company’s products over the rest. This is because Hofstead Gm’sproduct best matched Commercial SA’s need description. To thiseffect, Commercial SA has correctly executed the second phase of theorganizational purchasing process.

  1. Product Specifications

Next,a buying firm then provides technical specifications of the productor service that will gratify an unfulfilled organizational need.According to Burke (2016), this responsibility rests in the hands ofa company’s department of engineering to handpick the bestalternative from an already established priority list. Relating thisphase to the case study, Dr. Leblanc calls Mr. Goodman asking for hiscompany’s product specifications. Also, when Mr. Goodman visits Dr.Leblanc on the 8thof March, he is shown product specifications that Commercial SA hasidentified as the most important features. To this level, CommercialSA has correctly applied the third phase of the organizational buyingprocess by choosing a product bearing the characteristics that willappropriately gratify the expanding needs of the firm.

  1. Supplier Search

Inthis phase, a purchasing company now tries to identify the mostappropriate vendor (Butt, 2016). While at this stage, the people(executives) involved in the buying process seek information aboutthe specific products or services they are in quest of, and thevendors that can supply them. Commercial SA correctly applies thisstage of the buying process because it contacts four productsuppliers in order to get the most suitable supplier.

  1. Proposal Solicitation

Ingram,LaForge, and Schwepker (2015) perceptively state that at this stage,qualified suppliers are invited by a purchasing company to submitproposals. In some cases, some firms send catalogues or a salesrepresentative. Relating this phase to Commercial SA’s buyingprocess, the firm is correctly fulfilling this phase of theorganizational buying process because it invites proposals from allthe vendors that qualify, and reviews them before arriving at adecision.

  1. Supplier Selection

Atthis phase, a buying firm screens the various proposals and a finaldecision is made. The greatest task in this phase is vendorevaluation. According to Mullins and Walker (2013), purchasing firmsfocus on three most important vendor characteristics: unswervingquality, delivery proficiency, and fair pricing. Linking this phaseto the case study, Commercial SA correctly executes this stage of thepurchasing process because out of four potential vendors, the firmsettles for Hofstead Gm. The firm decides to purchase from thisvendor because its delivery, consistency, and price features suit thecompany’s expansion needs best.

  1. Order-routine specifications establishment

Inthis stage of the purchasing process, a purchasing firm writes thefinal order with the chosen product or service vendor, explicitlylisting the all the technical qualifications, the quantities needs,terms of warranty, and many other procurement relevant terms andconditions.

  1. Performance Review

Thislast stage of the organizational purchase process entails anevaluation of the vendor’s performance. According to McDaniel(2014), some firms establish quality performance, customersatisfaction, and other value-adding measures for their vendors tomeet. As such, some buying units provide the vendors with suchinformation to determine whether their performance is the same,improving, or worsening. This process is normally equated to theperformance evaluation of an employee (McDaniel, 2014).

SalespersonSelling Process

Accordingto Woodside and Baxter (2013), there is no universal procedure fororganizational sales agents to execute their contractual obligations.Nonetheless, the author perceptively states that the very firstcrucial step in the selling process is understanding the buyer whichis the foundation of an effective selling process. Understanding abuyer is more than just knowing who the buyer is because it entailsidentifying the experience the buyer wants as they think about makinga purchase from a sales agent’s company (Lee &amp Kim, 2015).Relating this conception to the case study, Mr. Goodman correctlyexecutes this stage of the selling process because he develops arelationship with Dr. Leblanc, Mr. Bernard, and Mr. Artois. Mr.Goodman undoubtedly understands the needs of his clients. When hepays Mr. Artois a visit in his office, he is pleased because theircompany’s specifications easily exceeded what Commercial SA isexpecting. To this extent, Mr. Goodman correctly executes the firstphase of the selling process because he knows the specific needs ofhis client.

Afteran organizational sales agent thoroughly understands a potentialbuyer, he/she can engage in what Westman (2016) refers to as a“buyer-responsive” selling process. According to the author, themain purpose of this stage is to provide a potential buyer with whatthey want, when they want it. Dr. Leblanc effectively fulfills thissecond stage of the selling process because he provides theexecutives of Commercial SA with the particulars of what they want,when they want them. For instance, Mr. Goodman visits Mr. Artois inhis office and shows him some of his company’s technical manuals.Moreover, Mr. Goodman provides Dr. Leblanc with the details of theirsystems and sales literature. To this extent, Mr. Goodman is a goodsales agent because he provides his clients with the necessaryinformation they need when they need it.

Itis the opinion of Monty (2014) that the third stage of an effectiveorganizational selling process is establishing trust with anorganizational buyer. It is an irrefutable fact that organizationalbuyers prefer to do business with sales agents they can trust.Relating this concept to the case study, it becomes apparent thatthis is where one of Mr. Goodman’s issues lies. He fails to securethe sale because he does not establish trust with the executives ofCommercial CA. On the 11thof March, Mr. Goodman is advised by Dr. Goodman to contact Mr.Bernard, Commercial SA’s purchasing manager. He makes anappointment to see him in two days’ time, but only calls Mr.Bernard on the 13thof March. He fails to live up to the promise of setting up a meetingwith Mr. Bernard. Additionally, when conversing with Mr. Bernard onthe 13thof March, Mr. Goodman is asked about his company’s pricing. All hesays is that he will get back on him on that. On the 15thof March, Dr. Leblanc also asks Mr. Goodman the same pricingquestion which he answers exactly the same way. Still on the pricingquestion, Mr. Goodman comes up with elevated figures as advised byMike Bull, his regional sales manager. These figures keep changing,even though they eventually do not gratify Commercial SA’s fancy.

Criticallyanalyzing these instances, it is benign to argue that the inadequacyof establishing a trustworthy relationship with the executives ofCommercial SA is what costs Mr. Goodman this lucrative deal. Thefirst issue is that Mr. Goodman makes an appointment but does notbother to make an appearance. He prefers to make a phone call ratherthan physically going to meet Mr. Bernard. This is a sure sign thatMr. Goodman cannot be trusted with his words or actions. The secondissue is that Mr. Goodman does not exhibit a trustworthy character bynot knowing the pricing of his company’s products. On two separateoccasions, Mr. Goodman does not give a precise price quotation oftheir company’s product even after failing to give an answer thefirst time. The fact that Mr. Goodman, working as a sales agent forCloverleaf plc, and is not familiar with the firm’s pricing of itsproduct, is very doubtful. The third issue is that Mike Bull’sconstant alteration of the product’s pricing paints a picture of acompany that does not have standardized product pricing procedures.The implication of such awkward situations is that either Mr. Goodmanis not sure of what he is selling or he is simply an imposter.Additionally, this creates the implication that Cloverleaf plc is nota competent firm because it employs untrustworthy sales agents likeMr. Goodman to handle its trading deals.

Essentially,Mr. Goodman’s issues of inadequate communication processesculminate in the lack of a trust-based relationship with theexecutives of Commercial SA. This is an issue because according toMonty (2014), Mr. Goodman should have established a trust-basedrelationship with the executives of Commercial SA, consistent withthe third phase of the salesperson selling process. Therefore, thesolution to Mr. Goodman’s issues in this case, according to Monty(2014), would be to develop a trustworthy relationship with theexecutives of Commercial SA. Mr. Goodman should have come up withclear concise prices right from the beginning of the negotiations.Mr. Goodman should have visited Mr. Bernard as he had initiallyscheduled. Mr. Bernard should have exemplified at least some “scantyknowledge” of his company’s product. Coupled up, all these issuessuggest that Mr. Goodman is not trustworthy explaining why hiscompany fails to secure the deal.

Accordingto Albro (2015), the fourth stage of the selling process is constantcommunication and follow ups. After buying the trust and confidenceof a potential organizational buyer, a sales person then makesrelentless follow-ups in the form of communication. This is toguarantee that a potential buyer does not change the mind. Relatingthis idea to the case study, it becomes apparent that there is anissue when Mr. Goodman fails to secure the deal partially because hefails to make follow-ups. Revisiting the previously highlightedinstance, Mr. Goodman books an appointment slated for the 13thof March. The issue here is that from the 11thto 13thof March, Mr. Goodman does not bother to make any follow-ups. Also,another issue comes up when he does not reply to Mr. Bernard’s 13thof March question until the 25thof March. Clearly, Mr. Goodman does not engage in vigorous follow-upprocedures because most of his successive communication records areat least two days apart. Had he been making persistent follow-ups, hewould have recorded daily communication or meeting activities in hisentire cycle of selling to Commercial SA. Had Mr. Goodman kept inconstant communication with the executives of Commercial SA, maybe hewould have secured the deal because the days he literally “slept”on his marketing responsibilities provided opportunities for theirequally matched competitors to gain mileage over them by engagingCommercial SA in constant negotiating conversations.

Thesolution to this following-up concerns, according to Albro (2015), isthat Mr. Goodman should have organized for constant communicationprocesses with the executives of Commerical SA. Consistent with thefourth stage of the selling process, Mr. Goodman should have maderelentless follow-ups so as to reduce the chances of the executivesof SA changing their mind. Clearly, there is an issue when Mr.Goodman fails to make follow-ups, which culminates in the loss ofsuch a lucrative deal. Thinking critically, the sales agents ofHofstead Gm must have executed all these selling stages perfectly forthem to secure the sale. Unlike Mr. Goodman’s issue of inadequacywhen it comes to following-up, the sales agents of Hofstead Gm makepersistent follow-ups with the executives of Commercial SA. Thesimple solution to this problem, according to the fourth stage of thesalesperson selling process, is to make time for persistent clientfollow-up.

Evidently,Mr. Goodman is a good salesperson, despite the fact that he hasissues that negatively affect his performance. Judging by thesalesperson selling cycle, Mr. Goodman is a good sales agent becausehe correctly executes the first and second stage of the salespersonselling process. Nonetheless, Mr. Goodman’s issues fit in the thirdand fourth stage of the salesperson selling process. First, Mr.Goodman’s third-stage issue emanates from the fact that he fails toestablish a trust-based relationship with the executives ofCommercial SA because of his irregular communication issues whichportray him as incompetent and untrustworthy person. Mr. Goodman’sfourth-stage failure issue arises from the fact that he falls shortwhen it comes to following-up with the executives of Commercial SA.Intrinsically, Mr. Goodman’s issues start at the third stage of theselling phase. Had Mr. Goodman established a trustworthy relationshipwith the executives of Commercial SA, maybe he would have beensuccessful in the fourth and fifth stages of the selling process. Perse, Mr. Goodman’s grand solution to his selling issues isdeveloping a trust-based relationship with his clients. With theestablishment of a trust-based relationship, the fourth and fifthphases of the selling process would have been a walk in the park forMr. Goodman. The last stage of the selling process is closing thedeal, which Mr. Goodman sadly does not achieve (Albro, 2015).

Recommendations

Itis apparent that Cloverleaf plc failed to secure the sellingopportunity mostly because of the unpremeditated inefficiencies thatemanated from Mr. Goodman as their sales agent. So what should haveMr. Goodman done differently? First, Mr. Goodman should haveestablished an honorable relationship with the executives ofCommercial SA. The executives of Commercial SA failed to trust Mr.Goodman because of his ignorance of the company’s product pricing.Therefore, Mr. Goodman should have first of all grasped all thepertinent product features before scheduling meetings or having phoneconversations with the executives of Commercial SA. Per se, had Mr.Goodman quoted a specific figure from the 12thof March, and not the 25th,maybe the executives of Commercial SA would have paid someconsideration to their company’s bottling product because theywould have been provided with concrete product information to makedecisive conclusions. In this regard, Mr. Goodman should have firstof all comprehensively understood the pricing of his company’sproducts because his irrational price quoting tendencies made himlook like an untrustworthy company representative. Second, Mr.Goodman should have proactively made daily follow-ups. Since Mr.Goodman was not actively involved in Commercial SA’s follow-ups, hegave the firm an opportunity to review the options availed by hiscompany’s competitors. Had he made constant follow-ups, maybe hewould have tailor-made a pricing strategy that would surpass HofsteadGm’s whose quotation closely matched his company’s.

Sowhat can Cloverleaf learn from this case? First, the company haslearnt the importance of training its sales agents on how to completean effective selling cycle. Had the company trained Mr. Goodman onhow to present himself, maybe the firm would have closed the dealbecause Mr. Goodman would have presented himself to the executives ofCommercial SA like a “winning” salesperson. Additionally, thefirm has learnt the importance of training its salespersons ongrasping and internalizing product specifications like pricing inthis scenario. Part of the reason why the sale was not successful wasbecause of unclear product pricing strategies, which was mirrored bycontinuously fluctuating price quotations. To this effect, Cloverleafplc has learned that overpricing a product that can be detrimental tothe selling process. The sale was not successful because Cloverleaf’spricing was substantially elevated albeit admissible by theproduct’s quality. The company has learned that competitivelypricing a product is fairer than exaggerating or over quoting aproduct’s price regardless of its state or nature. Forth,Cloverleaf plc has learned the importance of fast decision making.Had Mike Bull made a concise price quotation earlier, maybe theirproduct would have been chosen over Hofstead Gm’s.

Conclusion

Inany business to business selling or purchasing agreement, there aretwo entities: the vendor and the buyer. These two units, equallyimportant in a B2B selling and purchasing process, have leveled meansof successfully executing either a purchasing or selling decision.Connecting these two units are salespersons that act as a linkbetween two firms willing to sign a trading deal. For a business tosuccessfully purchase another company’s product, it has to indulgein a complete eight-step process. In the same breadth, for anorganizational salesperson to successfully sell to another firm,he/she must participate in a five-stage selling process. Asestablished by Cloverleaf’s case, there are many dynamics thatinfluence the success or failure of a business to business selling orpurchasing process. Therefore, it is important that both purchasingunits, along with their sales agents, be involved with competitivelyhealthy trading practices in order to improve the outcomes of anybusiness to business purchasing or selling transactions.

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