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The buying center concept refers to the process by which businesses, firms, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and individual consumers make purchase decisions about goods and services they require. In most organizations, the buying center is usually a formal and well-organized unit with specific procedures and criteria for making purchases. According to Damonte, a buying center is also referred to as a decision making unit. The buying center concept proposes that different people or departments that constitute a buying center in organization usually have specific roles and duties to play during a purchase process. Thus, the buying center is composed of a group of people or members of various departments within an organization who decide on the appropriate goods and services that should be bought by the firm, organization or government agency.

This essay reviews the use of buying center concept at General Motors Corporation as the company intends to buy laptop computers for its employees. General Motors Corporation is a leading manufacturer of automobiles in the United States of America. The company also has numerous branches spread in the major cities across the globe.

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Roles in the buying center

The different roles in the buying center for General Motors Corporation include the initiators, decision makers, influencers, purchasing agents, controllers and users. According to Kotler (2010), the initiators are the people who start the purchasing process by defining the need to buy a specified item or items for an organization. The initiators are the people or departments within an organization that recognize that the company requires a particular item. In relation to the purchase of laptop computers by General Motors Corporation for its employees, the initiators are the top-level and middle-level managers. They will kick off the purchase process by emphasizing the need to purchase laptop computers for employees in order to enable them provide high quality services to customers. The managers would also emphasize that use of computers in the operational processes within the company. They would help in reducing costs of provision of services as well as increase the effectiveness and efficiency of providing such services to customers. I have chosen the top-level and middle-level managers as initiators because they are the members of the organization that are responsible for introducing a change in the company.

Secondly, the decision makers are the people who make the final purchase decision. With respect to the purchase of laptop computers by General Motors Corporation for its employees, the decision makers will be the top-level management of General Motors Corporation. They will decide whether or not the laptop computers will add value to services provided by its employees to the customers. I have chosen the top-level managers as the decision makers because final decisions in an organization are usually made by the senior or top managers. Thirdly, the influencers are the people who persuade the decision makers to make the purchase. In respect to purchase of laptops by General Motors, the influencers are the workers who will be using the laptop computers as they provide services to the customers or administer other duties and responsibilities in the company.

Fourthly, the purchasing agent is the person who makes the actual purchase order. In relation to the purchase of laptop computers by General Motors Corporation for its employees, the purchasing agent is the supplies and procurement department. Also this is the computing and information communication technology (ICT) department of General Motors Corporation. In my view, the supplies and procurement department will be in charge of placing the orders for the laptop computers, The computing and ICT department will be responsible for the ensuring that the right quality laptop computers are purchased for the employees. The computing and information communication technology department will give the specifications for the laptop computers to be purchased. In my view, the computing and ICT department is also a purchasing agent because it is the only department in the organization that adequately understands the technological needs of the company.

Fifthly, the controller is the person who prepares a budget for the purchase process. With respect to purchase of the laptop computers by General Motors Corporation, the controller is the accounting and finance department that will oversee the budget for purchasing the laptop computers  for the employees. The accounting and finance department will fund the purchase. Last but not least, the users refer to people who use the final product after the purchase. In this case of General Motors, the users of the laptop computers are the employees who will be using the purchased computers.

Members of the buying center

In my view, the members of the buying center that the salesperson should focus on when selling the laptop computers to General Motors Corporation include the information and communication technology officer. He or she  is responsible for determining the types of laptops to be supplied to the company. The salesperson should also focus on the end-users or employees who will be using the laptops. This would help the salesperson in identifying the needs of the employees, hence to be able to supply the company with suitable computers that adequately meet the needs of the employees. The salesperson should also focus on the finance manager of General Motors, so that he can be able to find out the estimated budget of the company for purchasing the laptops. This would help the salesperson in quoting affordable prices for the laptops.

Differences in buying processes between organizations and consumers

For my part, the buying processes within organizations differ from purchase decisions by individual consumers. The buying processes usually entail consultations between various persons and departments within the organizations. For example, the procurement manager should consult the finance manager before placing orders in order to determine the availability of funds for the purchase, unlike individual consumers who do not need any consultations. Thus, purchase processes within organizations are collective activities while buying processes by consumers are conducted solely.

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