Have you ever spent two, three, six (or more) months working on a deal? You have momentum. Everything seems to be going well. Your solution is perfect. Your contact returns your calls. He replies to your emails. He meets with you when you are at his office. He even goes to lunch with you, as long as you’re paying. All is good. Until it’s time to finalize the deal – close it. That’s when you learn that your contact (we’ll call him Carl) doesn’t have the authority to approve the deal.
That’s a “spirit-crusher”! Carl could have said NO at any point along the sales cycle, but you waited until the end (months later) to learn that he could not say YES. One of the worst feelings in sales.
This spirit-crushing lesson doesn’t need to be learned more than once. You don’t need that feeling in the pit of your gut ever again. Then why does it happen over & over? There are a few reasons:
- You trust Carl. Your “happy ears” hear what they want to hear & you don’t think you need to dig deeper.
- You don’t want to offend Carl by going over his head. And it works. You never do. (Solves that problem).
- You don’t believe you “belong” at the higher level. You are comfortable with lower-level Carls.
- You don’t want to “upset the applecart” – “better not screw things up by asking too many questions”
We’ve heard ‘em all. If any of these items ring true in your selling life you will fall victim to another spirit-crushing deal. Or should we say, “no deal”?
The lesson here: You must fight to get to the decision maker/makers & understand how the process works.
You read it right. The who, who else & how. Every single deal. We are not suggesting you go over Carl’s head in any way that exposes you to Carl. No need to offend Carl (you need Carl). We are suggesting that Carl help you get to the appropriate person/people.
Carl knows his place. If Carl wants you & your product or service, he will help you. Remember, Carl can say NO… he just can’t say YES.
Here are 3 ways to make sure you are selling to the decision maker(s):
- (How before who) When you make decisions like this, how does it work & who is involved?
- (Who before how) When you make decisions like this, who is involved & how does it work?
- (Every business is different…) Every business we work with is different. When you make decisions like this, how does it work & who is involved?
These questions are worded very carefully. They are designed to gather the information you need to ensure you are dealing with all the appropriate people & that you understand the process.
Be sure you don’t break a cardinal rule of selling & give Carl the chance to lie to you by asking, “Are you the decision maker.” Some Carl’s out there can’t wait to get their needs met, can’t wait to puff their chest out & give you the perception that they have “power” & will immediately say YES to that question. Wrong question.