How to Reach the Decision Maker


Former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt said “Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes”

How many times have you allowed that to happen to you?

We all know the first step when we meet with a prospect is to determine if they have a serious problem (or PAIN) compelling enough that they have to find a solution.  So, we show up for the appointment, have a great conversation, find pain… and then nothing happens.

You see, FINDING pain is not enough.  We have to find the pain of THE person who has the POWER to decide and for whom the PAIN is PERSONAL.

How to Reach the Decision Maker

Sometimes not getting to the decision maker isn’t because we don’t know who it is, but rather is due to our lack of commitment to executing our sales process. Oftentimes, we are speaking or working with someone who has been “tasked” with finding the right solution- they are spearheading the research, having discovery conversations, they’re the keeper of the details, etc. And usually have the full support of other leaders within the organization to make the right decision. But how often have we been in situations where we are working with the “decision-maker” but when it comes time to sign off on the proposed agreement or get the check, suddenly there are other players involved that are holding up the process? Without fail, it’s because there are additional people who will be impacted by the change or decision that must fall in love with you, your company, and what you bring to the table.

Let me be clear, having the buy-in of the initial decision-maker is critical. They need to become the person advocating for you on the inside. What I am suggesting is that 99% of the time, it is beyond their abilities and power to say “yes” to you. More often than not, that involves more than just 1 person.

But here is the major question: Why do we continue even when we know we are not meeting with THE decision-maker?

  1. Maybe we don’t have an effective sales process that tells us when we should walk away
  2. We go forward based upon what WE think the problem is (but there is no real pain)
  3. We don’t prepare to ask the right questions, the right way at the right time
  4. We are conditioned to get to the presentation as quickly as possible
  5. We think we have to play by the prospect’s rules
  6. Our anemic pipeline keeps us from walking away

Regardless of why, when you think you are not meeting with all or any of the decision-makers, try these questions.

  1. “When you have made decisions about this issue in the past, what has that process looked like?”
  2. “If, after our conversation today, we discover some problems that you are committed to fixing, who else needs to be involved in order for you to say yes to a solution?”

When you get answers, don’t go forward without those people involved

Remember, it’s not that they want to tell you no, they just can’t tell you yes.

Happy selling!

From Alex Cole-Murphy, Sales Development Expert
Anthony Cole Training Group


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