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How To Find The Prospect’s Decision-Making Process

How many times have you been in discussions with a prospect and got on well, only to find that they don’t have the authority to make a decision?

It happened to me a number of times when I was first selling MTD’s services. Then it hit me that this was an obvious question that should come up early in the conversation. But how do you raise it without it sounding patronising or the person finding it difficult to admit they might not be making the final decision?

Don’t just blurt out the question, “So, are you the decision-maker?” It might get a knee jerk reaction of ‘yes’, but it may be embarrassing for the prospect to admit they may not be top of the pile. Here are some better ways to get down to the company’s decision-making process:

“What is the process in your company for moving this forward?”  The process is detached from the people, so it will be easier for the prospect to talk about the procedure rather than the people, particularly if they might not have the final say.

“What needs to happen to get this approved?” Again this focuses on process and helps the prospect talk through how rather than who.

“Who needs to be involved to get this approved?” This is when you’ve found out the process and the prospect is involving others in the process to determine the end result.

You need to make it easy for the prospect to answer the question, and concentrating firstly on the process the company follows to make decisions of this nature enables you to focus on an inanimate procedure. This means the person doesn’t have to justify his or her position…they just speak about processes.

Finding this out saves time in the long run, assists you in developing rapport and creates a foundation to launch your service discussions from, as you appreciate how decisions are made within their department.

Happy Selling!

Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

(Image by D Dpavumba at

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Sean McPheat

Hi! I'm the founder and Managing Director of MTD Sales Training - we offer sales training solutions for companies both large and small. I'm blessed to work with 25 of the most talented trainers in the UK....well, I did recruit them! 😉 Today, we've delivered training in over 23 countries to over 3,500 different organisations and 100,000 staff. Our clients include Xerox, Friends Provident, Starbucks, Taylor Wimpey, CISCO, Allianz and Lloyds TSB to name but a few.

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