When you pitch your products or services to someone who does not have decision-making authority, you are wasting your time. Here’s how to get to the decision maker so you present to the person who actually decides whether or not to hire you.
How to Get to the Decision Maker
Some decision makers delegate tasks they really should be doing themselves to their support staff or assistants. They use a different type of gatekeeper. While the final decision maker will let you make an appointment to do your presentation, they won’t attend it themselves. Rather, they will send their gatekeeper to screen vendors before they decide on who they want to talk to in person.
Big problem: no support staff or assistant in the world will be able to convey your presentation as clearly and robustly to their boss as you can. All of your presentation nuances, anecdotes, examples, and key points will get lost in translation.
There is only one person who can differentiate your services to a decision maker: you. Unfortunately, this means that the actual decision maker will be deciding your fate without the proper information they need.
What to Say to Get Past the Gatekeepers
When you schedule your initial sales prospecting meeting and hear comments like “my boss asked me to take a look at your services to decide whether he would like pursue it further,” your immediate goal should be to figure out how to get the decision maker into the conversation.
Even if you have an effective business presentation, you must get past these gatekeepers because they will not be able to portray your company’s offerings in the best light.
One of the best ways to do this is to ask the non-decision maker questions that only the decision maker can answer thoroughly.
Examples of Exploratory Questions
- What’s working well for you now that you would like to keep? Anything else?
- What’s not working so well for you and what kind of change are you hoping to see? Anything else?
- What are your metrics to determine if our relationship with you is successful? Anything else?
- If price was not an issue, could you describe what your ideal scenario would be with your technology vendor? Anything else?
Note the “anything else?” part of every question. This is designed to get them to continue talking so you can probe for very detailed answers. These questions lead to the main step in how to get to the decision maker.
Asking to Meet with the Decision Maker
A non-decision maker or non-influencer will have a hard time articulating detailed responses to the exploratory questions. This will give you the opportunity to say:
- I was just thinking… would it make sense to go ahead and bring <name of final decision maker> into the conversation at this point so we can make sure we’re addressing all of the critical issues?
Be sure to say this very politely – you don’t want the non-decision maker feeling threatened or unnecessary. When you start with the exploratory questions and follow up with , the support team who is interviewing you may see the need to bring in the decision maker.