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Who are the decision makers?

Submitted by on Friday, 12 February 2010

I once was told that there are three things a sales person needs to know: when will a prospect buy, who are the decision makers, and how much money will they give me.

I wonder how true this is now. Or if these are the most appropriate benchmark needs of a seller. Let’s go through each of them:

1. When will a prospect buy?

People buy only when their entire decision team figures out how to bring in something new while ensuring that the status quo (the people, policies, initiatives, partners, rules, relationships, etc.) won’t be severely affected by the new solution coming in. It’s got absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with their need – they’ve done without trying to ‘fix’ the problem this long, why do they need to hurry up and potentially risk some sort of fallout? We are the ones who want them to hurry up. We notice a ‘problem’ and we have the perfect ‘solution’ of course, and think that there is obviously a need for an immediate resolution.

If you broke your leg, would you wait to get it fixed? I suspect not. You’d see the problem, feel the pain,and get it fixed immediately.

Rule: if your buyer had real ‘pain’ or a real ‘need’ they would have fixed their problem already. Finding the perfect solution is not their first concern: managing their environment in a way that will comfortably adopt to a more efficient business solution is.

I have one more comment about time. The time it takes for prospects to discover, and manage, all of their off-line decision criteria is the length of the buying cycle. When left of their own, they take quite a bit of time figuring this out, and they will never buy if they might irreparably harm something/someone. Using Buying Facilitation™ you can help them speed up their process by a factor of about 8. They will do this with you or without you. Your choice to wait, or be a neutral navigator.

2. Who are the decision makers?

Who cares? And what will you do with that data?

Let’s say that I know that in matters of money, you are ‘the decision maker’ in your family. First of all, that’s a specious phrase because everyone has a part in the decision, even if it’s not direct. Would you make a decision that harmed anyone in your family even it they don’t sign the check? If your daughter was allergic, would you bring home a cat? If your son was a year away from graduating, would you consider moving to the perfect house in a different state?

Next: even if you know EXACTLY who the decision makers are, what can you do about it? Call them – and go around your connection? Send them a gift? An email? And what if you can actually speak with them – what will you do? Try to convince them that your solution is the best? Get them to LIKE you so that they choose you over others? Discuss price?

First of all, no one on the Buying Decision Team can not know all of their decision criteria until they are just about at the point of choosing a solution, because the entire process is idiosyncratic and a mystery (to them certainly. For you – forget about it). When you were thinking of buying a house,was there any way you could have known all of the different types of decisions/choices you’d need to make along the path toward a solution? Of course not. So knowing who their decision makers are is pointless.

I once had a secretary who was very very protective of my time (that’s her job, after all). She was relentless: if she thought it was important for me to spend my time with someone, she’d stand there until I took the call or made sure I returned it in a short time span. If she thought the person would be a waste of my time, she’d hide the message slip. Sometimes I wouldn’t find it for weeks. Even though I yelled about it, she didn’t stop doing it. She used to cross her arms and glare at me: “I don’t care WHAT you are supposed to do with him. I don’t trust him. He’s rude, demanding, and disrespectful. You shouldn’t be in business with him.” So who, exactly, was the decision maker here? Not me, obviously.

3. How much money will I get?

If your buyers know exactly how to buy, and you help them manage their off-line process so they can meet and figure out their own buying criteria (that most likely has absolutely nothing to do with a need), they will have no issue with whatever you charge. I never, ever, get asked price. It’s only when buyers can’t tell the difference between two things and they both look equal that price becomes an issue.

All of your problems with buyers come from the sales cycle, which doesn’t give you the skills to do much more than discover needs/pain, and offer solutions. It’s time to facilitate a buyer’s criteria-based, off-line decision making. But the sales model won’t get you there.

sd

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