Most students can relate to a consumer purchase and can grasp the concepts of the consumer buyer journey steps without a lot of effort. What is more difficult is helping them to internalize what the B2B buying process is since most have never worked for a business.
I developed this exercise for my Marketing Principles class this semester. While we ran out of time to do this as smoothly as I would like, I think it served to communicate what I wanted them to take away.
1) understand how the roles in the buyer jury influence decision making
2) understand how evaluation criteria for an RFP are determined and pitches are customized.
3) understand how to tweak messaging to set traps for competitors or to differentiate your product/service
Class Buyer Jury Exercise:
Students will organize into 6 groups.
3 groups are Sellers
3 groups are Buyers
For this scenario I made it about a food purchase by our university, our university football stadium and the nearby technical college where a major food service company already has contracts. The scenario is fictitous but is grounded in enough elements of reality.
- Seller 1 already has an existing contract for food service at the university that is also coming up for renewal. Both the Buyer 1 and Buyer 2 university campuses are interested in considering new food options to satisfy student’s desires for a new restaurant to be added to the student union. This presents Seller 1 with an opportunity for a modified rebuy if they extend a new restaurant offering. Since Seller 1 provides all food service staff on campus, even if the campus decides to go with a name-brand chain for the restaurant, Seller 1 will require a contract to provide the food service staffing.
- Buyer 3 (Athletics/Stadium) is also looking to expand the available options for food during games. They wish to add a new food vendor into the main stadium for Football season.
- All three buyers are extending RFPs for contracts.
- Sellers – your goal is to try to win all 3 contracts.
- Buyers – your goal is to select the contract with the company that will best meet your student needs and needs of your facility.
- Assume the roles you are given including any additional information that I may give you to consider. If I give you separate instruction you must keep that private and not share with your group. NOTE: For instructors – give notes to a team member that they are a Champion for one Seller, and to a different team member that they are a Saboteur for another. It’s important to have the student very clear not to share what their role is with the other team members.
- Sellers and Buyers will have 10 minutes to prepare. (5 min in each phase) Instructors: I send the sellers out into the hall and keep the buyers in the room with me.
- Phase 1: Sellers prepare a pitch, Buyers prepare criteria. Instructors: In the packet I developed are 3 copies of the evaluation criteria they buying team develops. You take them and hand it out to the Seller teams so they have criteria from all 3 buyers.
- Phase 2: Sellers react to criteria, Buyers discuss how they will score.
- Each seller will have up to 2 minutes to make their pitch to the jury for each buyer. The buying jury may ask you questions for an additional 3 minutes. A timer will ring at 5 minutes and groups must switch to the next pitch. We will go in a round robin fashion. During this time Buyer jury members should keep their own notes. Instructors: I had to shorten this to be speed dating style. It can work with a 1 min/ 2 min pitch only. Or more time. All teams presented to each other in one room. I try to teach about body language and relationship building in lecture before hand.
- At the end of the pitch, the buyers will deliberate for 5 min in their own groups (in the classroom) and produce one final score per company. They will make a decision on how to award the contract. Sellers will debrief outside.
- The Deciders within the buying teams will announce their selections and why. (5 min)
- Class debrief
How did this exercise play out in my classroom?
It accomplished what I wanted it to. If I did it again, I would lecture on the content the day before and leave the entire class period to the game.
I had one out of three teams where the saboteur role worked and it blocked the deal. I did not have a champion role help any deal.
I was very pleased with the effort in the quality of the pitch that some of the students developed and embracing some of their roles.
Get the activity and guidebook
I’ve attached my activity guidebook that I print out for the student teams in case you want to implement something similar. Let me know if you use something similar! I’d love to know what other professors do so I can continue to tweak this exercise!