QUESTION: “How do you uncover who the real decision maker is?”
Claude Diamond: You could say “I really enjoyed speaking with you. How are decisions made in your company, in your family?” or “In your family, what’s the dynamic?”
What is so hard about asking questions of people and getting the information? It’s about being a good listener, which is tough for us guys sometimes.
Dan Waldschmidt: You have to ask, and then you have to re ask, and then you have to mix that to what you know and use your BS detector to keep asking until you’re sure.
I’d just ask, “How are decisions made?” Now notice, I didn’t say, “Who makes a decision.”
For example, I’d just ask, “How are decisions made?” Now notice, I didn’t say, “Who makes a decision.” That allows me to do is present a question that they actually have to think about instead of just going, “Oh, yeah. I make decision,” right? Which is probably a white lie.
To get people thinking, you have to ask a question that they’re not ready for. The question I often use is, “So help me here, how are decisions made internally?” Notice we’re not asking “who”.
If I don’t get the answer I’m looking for at first, my challenge then becomes, how can I ask two more questions on top of that? So when someone says, “Oh, we’re looking around for vendors. We’re gonna take them all in-house and then pick the best person.” I will pause and then say “So you do mind sharing a little bit more about that? Do you have timeline? Do you have a deadline? Is there a committee? Are you on it?”.
So, I mean, you’re building this relationship and you’re digging into it. And again, if you’ve been honest the whole way through, yes, your prospect will lie to you. You should plan on them lying to you, but they’re white lies because they’re trying to protect themselves. They’re not doing it because they hate you or they’re trying to be a bad guy. They think you’re trying to do something schmarmy, and they’re holding you at bay with their lies.
So just be empathetic to this and try and help them because they may not even know how this decisions gonna get made. They may say, “Well, I thought I was making the decision, but if you give me a number that’s too high I’m gonna have to go to this person, and then it impacts that guy so I gotta pull him down. And at the end of the day, I guess we’re all making the decision together” you actually help them codify in their minds this whole process.
So some sales are just a transaction. You’re on the phone, “Do you want it,” “No,” “Bye.” “Do you want it,” “No,” “Bye.” The deals that you focus on however are where you have to build consensus and help nurture them through a complex buying process. This is the number one reason why you shouldn’t just buy into someone’s process because they told you it made them a million bucks, you should compare it to what your clients buying process currently looks like, and then build out effective steps together that help you get really clear on how you can move the sale forward.
Will Barron: I ask, “who is involved in the buying process?” It allows the person we’re speaking to to share with us, who needs to be involved.
Because you don’t wanna get peoples’ backs up, right? You don’t wanna say to someone, “Hey, nice to meet you, but who do I need to speak to to make this deal happen?” That’s a weird question, it makes it look like you don’t care about the conversation you just had, you don’t care about that individual, you’re just trying to go around them, you’re just trying to go to get rich quick ass opposed to build the account, build sustainability, and that is what gives us referrals at the end of the day.
Just ask how things move forward in a buying process like this generally. Essentially ask what the buying process is, and that will uncover who the decision maker is as well.
It could be as simple as, “Who else is a key stakeholder in this outside of yourself?”
Geoff Woods: You should be asking questions. It could be as simple as, “Who else is a key stakeholder in this outside of yourself?” That way you’re not putting them down, you’re inflating their, or acknowledging their importance, and also ask the follow up question, “Who else needs to be involved in this?”
Richard Harris: I don’t know that you’re ever going to uncover who the real decision maker is other than uncovering if someone has the ability to sign off on new business.
But that doesn’t always mean that they’re the decision maker.
I think Salesforce has done a great job translating this into a system by splitting roles into – the business user, the executive sponsor… you know, all of these people that I think matter.
“Who else is affected by this decision?” Because that’s a less threatening approach than saying, “Hey, I don’t believe that you’re as important as you say you are.”
The one question that I do ask is, “Who else is affected by this decision?” Because that’s a less threatening approach than saying, “Hey, I don’t believe that you’re as important as you say you are.”
I don’t want to know who’s involved, I want to know who’s affected because those people who are affected should be involved. Working backwards like this might be the smarter way to go about it.
And if anything, they’ll at least indicate who can say, “No.” I’m not sure it’s a single question you could ask anymore as you have to be a little more investigative and try not to pry into people or put them on the defensive.