Written by Sean McPheat |
5 October, 2018
By that, of course I don’t mean they are an imposter!
No, but maybe they are claiming to have more power than they really have in the decision-making process.
Sometimes it may be a ploy used by the customer, to either boost their own ego or to bypass the stringent processes the company use decide the supplier list they are going to use.
Either way, it makes you look silly when you are attempting to close with someone who actually doesn’t have the authority you had originally assumed.
Here are three tips to ensure you are selling to the person who has that authority:
1) Ask ‘How are decisions made when you are making decisions like this?’
This enables the person you are talking to cover the procedures they use, rather than trying to bolster their own position.
It’s easier for a person to say ‘I see the potential supplier first, then we discuss the next stages with a buying and procurement team’ than admit they’re not head honcho in the process.
You also get to hear about the stages they go through in making decisions, and allows the person to still keep face if they aren’t the main protagonist.
If you find the person you’re talking to isn’t the main decision-maker, you can still carry on the discussion, but be careful with how you progress.
You may not want to discuss any negotiating positions with this person at present.
The person may, though, be a key influencer in the process, so you will want them to feel they have confidence in your approach and so build up trust.
Doing that may well help you get to the next stage in the sale if the person does have influence with the final decision-maker.
2) Make sure your research is complete and accurate
Your search may bring up the details of the company buyer, but are they the person who is going to make the final decision?
Check out their LinkedIn credentials, or google them to find other facets of their industry experience.
You may find that they work with others to make decisions, or they decide the final outcomes themselves.
Either way, your thorough research will help you determine if this is the right person to be talking to.
3) Use the gatekeeper screen to get further information
Some salespeople dread talking to the gatekeeper (a person whose job is to filter approaches so the decision-makers don’t get hounded by sales calls).
But they can also be very helpful in you getting in front of the right person.
Here’s an example of how it works:
Gatekeeper: “ABC Ltd, how can I help you?”
You: “Oh, hello, it’s John Smith here from XYZ Ltd. I’m trying to get hold of Bill Jones as I believe he’s responsible for your purchasing of office equipment. Am I right with that assumption?”
Gatekeeper: “Actually, no, Bill is in charge of supplies but it’s Charlie Brown who actually places the orders”
You: “Oh, thank you for that. Would Charlie be available?”
You’ve proved you’ve done your homework but found out the real person you would need to be talking to.
Nine times out of ten you would have been right before, but it helps to clarify and confirm first.
Try out these tips whenever you need to ensure you’re talking to the decision-maker and avoid wasting too much of your time working with someone who may not have the authority to give you what you need.