So today’s the day. Decision day from the key customer that will make or break your sales forecast for the boss. 121 with the boss is Friday, so enough time to ‘get a yes’ and paperwork done to ensure the boss is happy that the numbers can be counted on.
It’s 4pm…. They haven’t called. Do you try calling them? Maybe email them? No – they PROMISED they were going to call. ‘I know – my phone must be playing up’, I will just ring my mobile phone number to make sure I am not in a signal blackspot or something. And now I will email myself too – just to double check their ‘yes’ decision hasn’t bounced.
Thursday morning, and still, nothing. It’s that nightmare we’ve all had happen, and probably not just once. We’re frustrated, that ‘right upfront’ we asked them to confirm they were the decision maker – and all we wanted was a ‘yes no decision’ at the end of our process. We delivered on our pledges, now they’ve broken theirs. Of course we can’t get angry at the customer, because they still could have genuine reason as to why they haven’t provided us with a yes/no decision.
By Friday, it’s all too much – we pick up the phone to the point of contact and (if they answer, not avoiding your call) they’ll no doubt announce, they need some time to run it past others. ‘John in Finance’ isn’t convinced… yet. Cue an unhappy boss - who now needs to adjust their forecast..... until next week, right?
Regardless of the outcome of the final decision, the truth is many of our customers no longer make decisions on their own. The perception of accountability in business is too high and now decisions may be ‘communicated’ by one, but reached by consensus. But here’s the thing, all of our contacts within a customer’s business could be decision makers, so they haven’ t lied – but what sort of decision maker are they? Are they a ‘money’ decision maker, are they a potential ‘user’ of the solution you’re looking to sell, or are they an influencer (positive or negative!). Just because you may have won them over, they may have many internal discussions to be ‘won’ on your behalf.
The ‘Money’ decision maker may well agree that they have the ‘money’ but may not agree the users have a ‘need’ for the solution, and vice-versa. It could be just because they aren’t as involved with the users as you’d originally thought; last thing the ‘money’ man wants to do is buy something to only then replace it 6 months later, as they bought the wrong thing.
As a sales person It’s really important we ‘fully’ identify our various decision makers from a potential customer organisation. A simple isolated question upfront asking if they’re the decision maker is no longer enough. You need to question more during the sales process (preferably early on in your sales cycle), and judge based on their answers as to which decision maker ‘type’ they are. Of course they maybe ‘all’ of those types and ‘could’ be the sole decision maker – GREAT - but if we need to connect with others in the organisation we need to use your initial point of contact as your ambassador to get in front of ‘all’ of your decision makers – users – money people – influencers.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather be the person promoting my proposition to ‘all’ decision makers within your prospect business – not the initial point of contact who now needs ‘to run it past others’. So if you detect your ‘decision maker’ isn’t the only one, sell it to them the value of you working with ‘all’ decision makers within their business – without taking the shine off of their ‘main point of contact’ status!
Put together a check list for each profile within a business decision making process – which enables you to talk/behave and adapt to all the personas. You want them ‘all’ to want to buy from you – not just the original point of contact.
Truly identify 'ALL' your decision makers, and the roles they each play.