I've come to learn that my initial investment is more about the person versus the product that I am buying into.
Most large companies have a formal, defined process for buying. Smaller organizations at a minimum have an informal buying process. The buying process is typically a check and balance to ensure that the company's stakeholders are making good decisions with the company's money.
Typically, the more complex the sale, the more formal and defined the buying process. In low-complexity, low-risk, and short-cycle situations, the buying process will often be a single person (perhaps the business owner) making a simple yes or no decision or an informal “Before we do anything we have to review it with Mary.”
When working mid- to long-cycle complex deals, it is imperative that you understand your prospect's buying process. You'll need to know the steps that are involved and the stakeholders' expectations and timing for moving through those steps. You'll also want to map the stakeholders involved, their role in the organization, and their influence on each step of the buying process.
Nailing down and mapping the buying process isn't easy or cut and dried.