I speak with many people in organizations who want you to think they are the decision-maker when in fact they are not. I have wasted too many emails and follow-up on people who can’t help. How do you ask without hurting the relationship you may have built? How do you determine the real decision-maker?

– Steve

Finding the real decision-maker may be one of the largest barriers to a sale in existence. It’s second to one other barrier: “Once I find the decision-maker, what do I say?”

I’m about to give you insight that will help you find and communicate with the all-important decider. But I caution you, it is not a be-all and end-all. Rather, it’s the beginning of your true understanding about decision-makers, and decision-making.

There are several parts to the decision-making process. Finding the decision-maker is only one of them, and it may be the smallest one.

Early in my career, I created a question that helped me find decision-makers without ever asking anyone who the decision-maker was. Whoever I was talking to, as I was making the sales presentation, I asked the question, “Who pulls the trigger?”

By asking, “Who pulls the trigger?” you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. You’re merely asking for distant information. Vital, but distant.

After I asked the “who pulls the trigger” question, I followed up with an equally powerful, but still pressureless question. I simply asked, “How will the decision be made?” And whatever my prospective customer said, I followed up with yet another question about the decision-making process, “Then what?”

The words “then what” lead you through the decision-making process. Especially if you continue to ask it. Until finally you come back to the trigger puller. It sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?

Well, over the years, I found that it wasn’t quite that easy. I had to have a greater understanding of the total process, especially what happened after the purchase was completed. 

After ownership comes value of purchase. Often erroneously referred to as return on investment, it’s what happens after the customers take possession, and what they’re hoping to achieve as a result of it. REALITY: That’s the only thing decision-makers want to know. And once you know it, you’ll be able to find every decision-maker. That’s pretty powerful.

Here are the critical decision-making questions:
• Whom do you collaborate with?
• Who will be the main user of the product?
• Who calls and asks for service?
• When a service person arrives, whom do they meet with?
• How did the last purchase happen?
• Who will be responsible for the outcome of this purchase?

HERE’S THE SECRET: Once you have the names of these people, you ask the person you’re meeting with to introduce you. And talk to these people about what really happens. Even if you’re meeting with the CEO, you can still ask for meetings with his or her people.

Once you have this information and meet the people involved, look at the expertise you put into your experience base. And even more important, you’re now charged with the responsibility of making certain every person involved in use and decision-making is aware of your value.

My way is a little bit more difficult to learn and implement, but a heck of a lot more productive in terms of not just finding the decision-maker, but actually making the sale – and gaining experience for the next sale.

Now you have to make a decision.

Decide to try it my way!