Are You the Decision Maker? Dumb question

Peady’s Selling Engagement sponsored by IRD Prospector

Welcome to this week’s post on sales and selling success.

The most common reason for not getting a decision (or being stalled on a decision) is because sales people insist on asking one irrelevant question:

“Are you the decision maker?”

It can be frustrating

In reply to that irrelevant question the prospect says outright that she isthe decision maker. 

Accepting this, the salesperson goes through the sales process – meeting with them, discovering needs, presenting a solution, asking for the business.
Then out of nowhere the bad news: “Thanks for putting this together, I’m going to review this with my boss (or my husband, wife, partner) before we can make a decision”

Now you’re on the back-foot. What to do? Do you ask to meet the real decision maker? Seek a joint meeting? Go around your original contact? All options have dangers. 

Meantime the process grinds to a halt – explain that to your sales manager!

The alternatives?

Let’s deal with reality. 

–      Sometimes you are not going to get to the decision maker and be stuck working through an influencer or assistant; but if you know this up front you’ll at least be able to align the sales process accordingly.
–      Sometimes you just have to deal with a deceitful person who misleads you for whatever reason – pride, ego or poor self-image. If this occurs be prepared for it.

But you do need to find a way to ask who the decision maker is without asking the “irrelevant question”.

One top performer gave me this tip: Before you make contact with a prospect do sufficient due diligence to find out who reallymakes the decisions. These days there are so many hard and soft sources to do this – websites, company reports, social media, CRM databases.

Another salesperson I know asks this question: “Apart from yourself who else will be involved in the decision-making process?”. The question is subtle because it pays respect to the first contact and in a disarming way uncovers the hierarchy – nine times out of ten she finds out who the players are.

Another option is to ask, ”Canyou explain to me the decision-making process so that if we decide to work together I know the steps?”

Is there only one decision maker?

Although there may be only one decision maker who can approve the sale, it’s important to remember that there can be others in the company or business who can’t approve anything but have the power of veto. Get to know these players too and you can minimise the nasty surprise that sometimes occurs at the last hurdle.

Qualify the buyer!

Global sales authority Jeffrey Gitomer sums up the decision maker issue beautifully: “Qualify the buyer and don’t waste your time with someone who can’t decide”.

Until next week good selling!

About the author 

Stephen Pead is a media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in direct sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in helping SME’s market their businesses more effectively and providing training for salespeople and sales managers.

He can be contacted at [email protected]