Will the Real Decision Maker Please Stand Up?

Business 89I remember a while back when I was having coffee with a business colleague here in Columbus, Ohio. He was sharing with me some of his experiences working with one of the larger employers here in Central Ohio (we have many of them). While he had many positive things to say about this organization and its accomplishments, his one negative observation was one that unfortunately is all too common:

No one is ever willing to make a decision.

We all know that the larger the bureaucracy, the more complex the political dynamics, which tends to lead many people to lose focus on a common end goal. You see it in large corporations as much as government and nonprofit institutions. Further, not only are many people unwilling to make decisions, in many cases they are unable to. When the economy goes south, it is not uncommon for real decision making power to become top heavy in many companies.

Still, it is not unusual for one to encounter people who may actually have the authority to make a decision, but they refuse to because to do so requires RISK. When prospecting in a business-to-business sales environment (B2B), your challenge is to identify the real decision maker: the person who not only CAN make a decision, but is WILLING to do so and take responsibility for it.

For those of you who may be familiar with the Wedge, you will know that this is where the “Influence Circle” comes in.

I will use a real case scenario from a story that a colleague shared with me, shortly after I introduced her to the Wedge. There was a hospital system where she wanted to secure a meeting with the leaders so that she could introduce them to her consulting services, and learn a little more about their situation. Since it’s a health care system (notoriously political), she wasn’t sure who to contact. So she did some research and identified five people that made up their “Influence Circle.”

She crafted a letter and an introductory package, and addressed each one separately to each of the five in the group. The result:

The president of the organization informed his assistant to contact me, to arrange a time for five of us to meet at once! He also indicated that my approach of contacting several of them simultaneously was brilliant.”

By approaching several people within one organization at the same time, you are turning the tide of politics in your favor. If you are attempting to get your foot in the door at an organization where you do not otherwise have a connection, how can you possibly know who the right person is you should speak to? Identifying the influence circle and approaching those people at the same time is simply an act of due diligence.

You identify the group; you approach the group; and you let nature do the rest. Ultimately, depending on your value proposition and the manner in which you present yourself, the real decision maker will reveal themselves.

What about you? Have you found yourself engaged and investing time with a prospect at an organization, only to learn that individual is not the true decision maker?  How have you overcome these situations? We would truly like to hear fr0m you, and learn more about your challenges. This will be one of the issues we address during our upcoming webinar on June 11. We truly hope you will be able to join us.

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