Overview – Selling to the Decision Maker

In this blog post I am going to talk about selling to the decision maker. The challenge is that we are very often speaking to coaches, endorsers and influences. Most of the time we do not actually meet and are not selling to the decision maker. To make this even more complicated the actual decision maker is often not even one person but rather a committee or team. Hopefully some of the folks we do meet and sell to are part of the team or committee. Finally and especially for larger or strategic procurements the person who actually signs the contract is one more step removed from the selling process.

In this post I am going to highlight a couple of really effective strategics and techniques you can use. For a detailed look at this and other differentiators I recommend you look at a new book by Lee Salz called Sales Differentiation at https://www.salesarchitects.com/salesdifferentiationbook/  Tip #18 speaks directly to this issue of getting to the actual Decision Maker. Lee and I met virtually 4 years ago when I published my book Sales Leadership: Distinctions With a Difference and he gave me some great advice on how make more sales. To buy my book through my publisher go to http://www.lulu.com/shop/wayne-fredin/sales-leadership-distinctions-with-a-difference/paperback/product-23955242.html

Selling to the Decision Maker

The Coach

You will not always have a coach in an account but if you do be sure to use him or her effectively. The Coach will help guide you through the customer process. They will often provide critical information and intelligence on who to talk to, the competitive landscape and the decision process. Be careful not to abuse this trust. Try to understand the coach’s motivation for helping you. Are they an end user of your solution? What do they get out of this? How can you reward them without breaking any business conduct rules on either side?

The Influencer(s)

There are often many influencers. Most of the time they cannot say YES but they can say NO. The most common include the Technical Influencer, the Financial Influencer and the Operational Influencer. There may be more than one of each. This is critical – you have to personally and directly sell to as many of them as possible. 

For many opportunities this is where you bring you ‘experts’ into the process. Whether you use Sales Engineers or Solution Consultants or Specialists or Architects does not really matter. It is their direct involvement with the customer counterparts that can make a huge difference. As the Salesperson you become the maestro of the band keeping everyone on the same sheet of music!

The Endorser(s)

Sometimes the Endorsers and Influencers are the same people but not always. In larger companies the Endorsers are the bosses of the Influencers. Where they are separate and more senior people than the Influencers they typically are part of the decision committee. They often work off the recommendations of their teams or the actual Influencers. They can be difficult to meet during the sales process. If or when you can secure that type of meeting you need to be totally prepared and bring your ‘A Game’.

Selling to the Decision Maker

So we now know who all the players are that we have to sell to except the actual decision maker or makers. If you can actually get in front of one or more of the real decision makers you must take advantage of this opportunity. Like selling to the Endorsers, bring your A Game.
So what do we do if we are not selling to the decision maker or makers? In this case we need to depend on the Coach or Influencers or Endorsers to make the sale for you. How does that make you feel? Confident or really nervous? What can you do to improve your chances of success? 

The Leave Behind

The leave behind is a document you prepare and provide to the customer. It is best if this is delivered to the most senior people you meet. It is also recommended you provide copies to all the people you meet unless directed otherwise. The more people you personally send or give this to, the better. The leave behind must include at least 3 things.

The Proposal or Quote

This must be clearly stated and completely unambiguous. My advice is to only include what is required in the main quote. Have a separate section for options, add-ons and upsells. When you include them in your main proposal you have a higher perceived price and that can be catastrophic in a competitive review.

Your Value Proposition

To me this is the most important part of the Leave Behind. Your Value Proposition is how you highlight the key benefits (not features) and differentiation from your competition. Even if there is no real competition it is still critical this be completed. 

If you know and are selling to the decision maker, focus your Value Prop on that person. What is critically important to them? Are they financially, technically or operationally driven? Often you will not be sure or you suspect or expect the decision maker will solicit advice or opinions from colleagues. Be sure to structure the Value Prop so it directly addresses the concerns of the operational, financial or technical person.

Value Proposition to help you with selling to the decision maker

Executive Summary

If your proposal is quite lengthy (over 10 pages) I recommend you have a one page Exec Summary as the first content page. Keep the ‘fluff’ to a minimum and highlight your value proposition and other key benefits. If the pricing is easy to show by all means include it here. If the pricing is complex, simply refer to exactly where to go to find it. Accept that most customers look initially for the price so make it easy for them.

Have a great week but before you go be sure to check out my online courses at https://www.takeactionsalesacademy.com

You may also enjoy my Daily 2 Minute Leadership and Sales Thoughts. These are organized into weekly themes. Check them out here at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLybM0a32jfh7eL96N-Fw90z257YsGxf6x

You may also enjoy my Sales Quickies Uncensored video series. These are very short 1 minute videos to highlight a specific sales tip, technique, quote or cliché. Just because it is short does not mean you cannot learn from it. Find them at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLybM0a32jfh4jtCGQm42ERHRgiAA_rsHw

You may also enjoy my Sales Leader Challenges Thoughts. In total there are 25. Check them out at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLybM0a32jfh60xVa-ViLaqjNjuAJDc3Nz

Wayne Fredin
Wayne Fredin

With over 40 years of experience as an Army Officer, a Sales Executive in both public and private companies and having been self employed, Wayne is a highly respected Sales Trainer, Coach and Mentor. Having published Sales Leadership: Distinctions With a Difference in 2015 he had now created a series of online sales training courses, tools and resources.