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In most B2B sales you are rarely selling to just one person and even if you are, it is rare that they are making the decision without being influenced by others or perhaps even having to get final sign-off from above. The best way to navigate this challenge is to uncover and then lay out the political landscape within the buying organization. This is where the Buying Center becomes your invaluable resource for visualizing how all these Contacts are going to impact your ability to win the Opportunity or Qualify the Lead.

Different people play different roles, for example, the person most affected by the problem may be a key “influencer” but is, in fact, not the final decision maker; someone else may be enamoured with a solution other than yours and so maybe a “naysayer”. The actual “decision maker” may not always be the “budget holder” and so on and so forth.

The bottom line is once you know what role someone plays in a buying decision you can then figure out how to best influence someone who is positively disposed towards your solution, mitigate against someone who is not and highlight the right business drivers and differentiators to the right people.

With Pipeliner’s Buying Center, you can visually keep track of all the different roles on the buying side, and how they relate to one another. Simply import your contacts and arrange them so you can see who is influencing the purchase, and from where.

You can also add other contacts not usually associated with the account—such as consultants or others the buyer listens to—that may not show up in the company hierarchy. You then assign various roles to each Contact such as Budget Holder, Decision Maker, Influencer, Naysayer (these roles are customisable for your business) and indeed some people may fulfil multiple roles.

It’s possible to create groups of Contacts within the Buying Center to identify, for example, those to focus on most right now and even to add a “ghost” contact to address the situation where you know someone is out there influencing the progress of your deal but you just don’t know who they are yet.

NOTE: In this article, where Opportunity is mentioned, you can also do the same for a Lead.

How to create your Buying Center for an Opportunity

Open up an Opportunity from any view and click on the Buying Center tab ⤵

Your Buying Center will display all the Contacts that you have added to the Opportunity so far. At the start of the sales process, you might only know of one Contact but, as you work on progressing your deal, you will find out who else is going to impact whether you win the business and you can add them at any time.

Adding additional Contacts to your Opportunity and Buying Center

You can add Contacts to your Opportunity from the "Detail" tab by clicking on the "Add New Contact" button ⤵

You’ll see a list of Contacts to add with suggestions at the top. These suggested Contacts are related to the "Primary Account" already linked to the Opportunity or maybe other Contacts you have accessed recently ⤵

You can also search for a specific contact by name ⤵

Or add a brand new Contact if you can’t find who you’re looking for ⤵

NOTE: Remember that you can easily assign any Contact as the primary for the Opportunity by hovering over them and clicking on “Select as Primary”.

Click “Save” to save your changes and the "Detail" tab will then display the primary Contact’s details and will indicate that there are other linked contacts by displaying the “Show All Contacts” button. Click on this to see details of the other linked Contacts ⤵

You can also add additional contacts to your Opportunity and Buying Center directly from the Buying Center tab by clicking on the “Add Contact” button ⤵

Choose between “New” to add a brand new Contact, “Existing” to pick a Contact who is already saved in Pipeliner or “Ghost Contact” to indicate that you’re aware of an individual impacting your deal but don’t know enough about them to create a Contact yet.

When you’re adding an existing contact to your Buying Center, the "List View" will open up and you can quickly find your contact by searching for their name. Select the right contact and click on the “Add” button ⤵

If you add a “Ghost” Contact, type in the name of the individual (if you know it), if not leave as Unknown and their Job Title (again if you know it). “Ghost” contacts allow you to represent influence by a currently unknown person ⤵

Later, when you’ve found out more information about them, you can use the three dots icon on the “Ghost Contact” card to “Edit” the details you typed in; “Replace”, “Delete” or “Promote to Contact” and select from either “New” for a brand new Contact or “Existing” if your ghost turns out to be someone that you know of already!

You can also “Add Contact” as well as updating Relationship, Sales Roles and Influences and “Add to Group” to add the “Ghost Contact” to a Buying Center Group ⤵

Working with the Buying Center

Once you’ve added your Contact(s) to your Opportunity, you can drag and drop cards to organise your Buying Center. Use the “Fit View”, “Zoom In” or “Zoom Out” buttons to get the right view for you.

Click on an individual card to open up the right-hand preview panel ⤵

From here you can edit details using the inline editing option. To inline edit, a field, hover over the field and then click on the pencil to update the field information ⤵

Click on the “Add” button to add additional information — such as a Task or another Opportunity — and “Open” to open up the full Contact record ⤵

Scroll down to see (or add) Job Title and to add the "Sales Roles" that the Contact has with respect to this Opportunity ⤵

NOTE: If the Contact is a member of an Account’s Org Chart, you’ll also see any Account Roles that you have assigned to them.

Indicate the strength of the "Relationship" you have with the Contact. The Relationship is indicated on the card by the coloured line down the left-hand side of the card.

You can also insert Lines of Influences between the Contacts in your Buying Center and add Comments specific to this Buying Center.

If you hover over an individual card, you’ll be able to see “Interactions with this Contact” or “Opportunities where this person has participated” as well as an indication that they are (currently) the Primary Contact for your Opportunity ⤵

Clicking on the "+" icon allows you to add another Contact whereas the three dots icon gives you access to “Add Contact” as well as updating Relationship, Sales Roles and Influences You can also “Connect To” another Contact in the chart as well as “Add to Group” to add the Contact to a Buying Center Group, “Replace” them with another Contact or “Remove” them from the chart completely ⤵

Adding Contacts via the Account’s Org Chart

Click on the “Open Org Chart” button to add Contacts from the Org Chart straight into your Buying Center ⤵

Contacts already in your Buying Center will be greyed out. Click on the Contact you want to add. This will open up the preview panel on the right-hand side so you can check, and update details. Click on “Add to Opportunity” to add the Contact to your Buying Center.

NOTE: Use CTRL-click to select multiple contacts and add them in one go.

This article has more information about working with Org Charts.

Adding a Buying Center Group

Groups in the Buying Center are designed to allow you to map the landscape for the deal by grouping Contacts together. A Group could be used to highlight all the Contacts you most want to focus on right now or to clarify the politics of the deal. It’s entirely up to each user.

NOTE: Groups are not configured by an Admin and they are not a “filter” of specific Contacts that you would create to use for a report or mass email, for example.

Click on “Create Group” and enter a name for your Group and pick a background colour then click on “Create” ⤵

Repeat as needed. Once your Groups are created, click on an individual contact card and use the three dots icon to get to “Add to Group”. Pick the group you want to add the Contact to. Repeat for all relevant contacts including “Ghost Contacts” ⤵

You can drag Groups around on the chart to place them where you want them and can also “Add New” Contacts to the Group; “Add Existing” Contacts, “Edit” the name or colour of the Group or “Delete” the Group (this does not delete the Contacts currently in that group)

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