The sales training we provide our partners in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto goes beyond understanding the role of the decision maker. Very seldom does the person making the final decision do so without input from other key individuals. While their involvement is not always easy to see, they’re typically in roles directly related to, or impacted by, a major buying decision. While the buyer might be the one to sign your proposal or give you a purchase order number, the power of influencers can easily sway a decision either way. Here’s how to make it work in your direction.
Experienced Salespeople who have lost their fair share of deals have learned many techniques over the years. Some come naturally, yet many are based on making mistakes and learning from them. This is sales training from the street. It’s difficult to deal with because no one wants to lose a sale, however, the practicality of it makes for some of the best learning opportunities you’ll have in your career. Great Salespeople will claim they’ve made many and have the scars to prove it.
Key Influencers beyond the final decision maker
Don’t assume that the person giving you authorization, a purchase order number or even signing the agreement is the sole source of decision-making capability. Managers, executives and even owners will often involve other key individuals who have a stake in the purchase being considered. Buyers may rely on the opinion of respected, knowledgeable employees, managers and mentors within and outside their organization. Recognizing the importance of key influencers is what smart Salespeople do. Many of us learned this the tough way, by losing a few deals due to a well connected third party who raised some concerns to the buyer without our knowledge.
When this happens, we quickly learn to ask more questions of our primary contact. Here are a few that will set you in the right direction.
- Whom besides yourself is involved in making this decision?
- How are these types of decisions typically made?
- Based on your previous experience, what will be the key issues influencing their opinion?
- Knowing the other decision makers, which way do you think each of them will lean?
- What would hold them back from saying yes?
- If the group says no for one primary reason, what would it be?
What happens if the buyer says they are the final decision maker?
Don’t stop there thinking that you are dealing with the sole influencer. Ask these questions.
- Which departments will be influenced by this decision?
- Will you be involving other key people and gathering their input in making the final choice?
- What would hold them back from moving ahead?
- If this was solely your decision to make, what would you choose to do?
Questions to develop a sense of urgency for action
- What can I do to assist you and your team in making the right decision?
- Would it help if I made a presentation to the group in order for you to remain objective to the team?
- Is there anything else you think I should know?
- What’s the next step in the process?
- Is there anything else I can do to assist you with the decision making process?
Obviously, you would never ask all these questions. Pick the right ones that suit the situation and the buyer you’re dealing with. Keep in mind, your verbal delivery and body language will have a major impact on how these questions are received and answered.
Asking great questions is the key to all consultative selling. Ask the ones that other Salespeople never think of. If your buyer doesn’t necessarily have an answer, ask who does and see if it’s appropriate to involve them and get their input. While involving more people in the decision thinking process might seem like it will complicate the process, it shows your buyer that you’re being thorough and representing their best interests.
Are you a Salesperson or Sales Manager that believes in always growing your skill set? Check out our book SHUT UP! Stop Talking and Start Making Money available on Amazon and our online sales training program The Sales Skills Incubator.
Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY