The Challenge – Get to the Real Decision Maker
While the acceptance of virtual and social selling has been a boon to sellers and buyers in some areas, sales teams continue to report the increasing difficulty of accessing true decision makers.  This makes it more difficult for sales reps to effectively qualify leads, shorten sales cycles, and win opportunities with target clients. You need effective approaches to get to the real decision maker.

Unfortunately, it has become more common for the real decision maker to delegate the task of looking for solution providers. The “evaluator” may or may not be able to influence the final decision about which solution to invest in. The challenge for consultative sellers is to first identify the person or group who will make the buying decision.

3 Sales Approaches to Get to the Real Decision Maker
The primary question you need to ask yourself is if you have access to the real decision maker. Here are three approaches that will help you find the answer to that crucial question.

  1. Adopt the Right Mindset
    As a sales rep, you solve certain problems. You can only deliver your unique value proposition if you (1) Spend your time with target clients who have the problems that you can solve and (2) Are committed to invest in solving them. Though it may seem pushy to be upfront with a gatekeeper or evaluator by asking to access the real buyer, it actually may build your credibility as a potential partner and get you in the right room.

    If you are a sincere solution seller, the truth is that you’re trying to figure out if you can help this customer be successful better than all their other available alternatives. Until you can work with the decision maker charged with solving the problem and spending the money to do so, you cannot adequately qualify the opportunity.

    This client-centric mindset will enable you to walk away from opportunities that do not make sense and to double-down on opportunities where you can truly add meaningful value.
  2. Ask Tough Questions
    It’s all in the timing and the intention. You have to establish some rapport before you ask the tough sales questions. But it is in your best interest as well as in the best interest of your prospect to determine early on if you can actually best help a particular customer.

    Declare your genuine intention to support your customer and set them up for success. Then acknowledge that in order to do so you need to know more about the issue their business is facing, who needs to be in the room, and what the next steps would be.

    Unless you are selling a transaction, do not settle.  The best sellers diagnose before they prescribe.
  3. Get an Internal Advocate
    If you’re involved in a large, complex, or high stakes sale, you will likely need someone on the inside who knows what’s going on and can walk you through the internal buying process, identify the decision makers, and share the decision drivers. An internal coach can help you determine what to present and what recommendation to make. Ideally, this is someone who will benefit from your solution and cares about your success.

The Bottom Line
if you don’t have access to the decision maker, you cannot be sure the sales opportunity is real or if you are best equipped to help.  If you truly want to win, you need to be ready to adopt the right mindset, ask the tough questions, and get yourself a coach on the inside. To learn more about how to get to the real decision maker, download The Top Sales Skills to Effectively Challenge Customers During the Sales Process

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