Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
It sounds like Sales 101 to have to tell a salesperson to ensure they are dealing with a decision maker. However, this mistake is unfortunately common.
When you are dealing with someone in a decision cycle, their ability to make a decision hinges on their authority. A lot of my clients are small business owners. They can say yes. Sometimes they need input from their team to feel confident. Most of the time they can sign the check and make final decisions. It makes doing business clear and easy.
When I am dealing with a larger enterprise, managers have to get approval. Sometimes, they shield you from the decision maker to control the flow of information or shop services with comparable professional service providers.
The game that happens becomes apparent when you have a few scars on your back. It’s the salesperson’s responsibility to uncover the details of a sale. If you are not dealing with a decision maker, you are wasting your time.
Getting to the Decision Maker
If you do not have confidence in a person’s ability to make a decision to do business with you, then ask questions that are non-threatening:
“How does your organization typically make buying decisions on this type of service?”
“Who else needs to be part of this discussion so they can get all the information they need?”
“Who signs the checks here?”
It is important to be gentle and subtle. If you have a gatekeeper that is playing for ego, information or politics, then these answers will not be forthcoming. There needs to be some skill and careful maneuvering in your approach to get to the goal.
If there is little trust, then the first decision to do business will have inherent obstacles. Your goal as a salesperson is to lower those barriers and ensure your valuable information is not wasted on the wrong people in the conversation.
Have you faced this issue? What have you done?