Never believe purchasing, delegated subordinates, or committees make final decisions. All they do is recommend their decision to their bosses. The sad news is that sales people believe this nonsense and then feel it is now unnecessary to get to the top people. All committees or delegates do is gather information (leg-work) and past their thoughts upward for the final decision.
Now if you’ve met the top person and interviewed him or her as to what s/he wants accomplished, and discussed how you can assure that happens; (1) s/he will get you in front of the committee or delegate; and (2) when it comes time for the final decision, the top person will either agree if the committee selects you, or question their decision if they don’t.
However, if you can’t get to the top beforehand, never lose sight that the committee or delegate doesn’t make the final decision. Then you’ll scheme or strategize to get to that person, i.e. hold back something the committee wants, like the best price or proposal until they introduce you to the top person, or you’ll find other who can introduce you.
So here’s where your thinking should go. Who does purchasing, the committee or your delegate give their recommendation to? That’s the person you need to see. Who’s going to introduce you and what are you going to do to make that person introduce you?
- Find out;
- Who delegated it or who suggested the committee?
- Who will the delegate or committee present the recommendations to?
- What high level inputs and from whom did the delegate or committee develop the spec / decision criteria?
- What does the delegate or committee think the top boss wants?
- Have the delegate introduce you to:
- Others at his level
- His boss and his boss’s peers
- Make sure you interview as many committee members as possible to learn;
- Each member’s personal agenda.
- How will the committee come to an agreement and recommendation?
- Each member’s perception of decision criteria.
- Each member’s perception of what the top person wants.
Tak’n It to the Streets
- Take the attitude that the committee or the delegate is only gathering information to make a recommendation. However, make a point to win them over to your side, but remember, that victory does not win the sale.
- Ask everyone you know or meet, “Who at a high level will approve this decision?”
- Realize your contact will share his recommendation with his boss if he likes what you have. Be careful, if your contact isn’t in favor of the project or you or your solution. He won’t share your info with anyone. How can you deal with this?
- If a committee’s involved, someone’s going to leak information upward to his and her boss, and to your competitor if that person favors your competitor. So save some precious nuggets for the top dog – i.e. final price or the final proposal.
- Ask yourself, who has more power than others on this committee for this project or purchase. Who does that person report to?
- Think also of your competition. What if they get beyond the delegate or committee to the top people and make a favorable impression? What does that do to your chances? This should motivate you to get beyond the committee to the top decision maker/s.
By John Hester