Users – As the name implies, these are people who will use the product. User’s influence may range anywhere from inconsequential to extremely important on the purchase decision. In some cases, the users initiate the purchase by requesting the product. They may even develop the product specifications.
Gatekeepers – Gatekeepers control information to be reviewed by other members of the buying center. They may control the dissemination of printed information or advertisements, or determine which salesperson will speak to which individuals in the buying center. For example, the purchasing agent might perform this screening role by opening the gate to the buying center for some sales personnel and closing it to others.
Influencers – Although Influencers are not Users, Deciders, or Buyers, and can only say no (but not yes), they have important relationships with Deciders or Buyers because they filter information in a way that exerts significant impact on the decision-making process and the sale.
Deciders – Deciders actually make the buying decision, whether or not they have the formal authority to do so. The identity of the Decider is the most difficult role to determine; buyers may have formal authority to buy, but the president of the firm may actually make the decision. A decider could be a design engineer who develops a set of specifications that only one vendor could meet.
Buyers – The buyer has formal authority for selecting the supplier and implementing all procedures connected with securing the product. More powerful members of the organization often usurp the power of the buyer. Often the purchasing agent, who executes the clerical functions associated with a purchase order, assumes the buyer’s role.