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NorthStar Performance Partners, LLC | Minneapolis, MN

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As a businessperson is sales, you always want to deal with the decision maker. How do you typically find out who the decision maker is? Do you avoid the question completely, fearing you’ll offend? Or maybe you just ask right out. It might sound something like….”Are you the person that will be making the final decision?” Either way, it’s a sensitive area, and many salespeople aren’t totally sure how to deal with it.

Let’s look at the root issue:

Not asking will exclude you from their decision-making process. When you’re left out, you’ll end up in “think-it-over” limbo, or, “we’ll be in touch” land. You lose total control over the sales process.

Asking if your prospect is the decision maker puts pressure on the person's ego and forces them to lie to you. Often the prospect will feel like they have to say they are, even when others are involved. You may never find out there are other people that have influence in the decision process.

When the truth finally comes out the prospect may feel embarrassed or even hide from you to protect their dignity.

Either way, you end up feeling frustrated and confused about what happened… wasting a lot of valuable time only to find that there are additional players. Now you have to start all over, assuming you have the chance.

It’s your job as a sales professional to craft questions that reveal who else is involved in the decision process, what the key issues are for that person, and how your contact will represent you with the other decision makers.

You need to develop a close relationship with who is in front of you. This is the only way to ensure they tell you what issues will determine who gets the business. Empower them with questions like: “Who do you typically bring in to help you make these kinds of decisions?” From there, you can dig deeper into the players involved: what’s important to them? What information will they be looking for in order to make their decision?

Ultimately, we’re looking to help our contact prepare for the questions their superiors will be asking about the information they’ve gathered, and move to the next step, which ideally is getting in front of all of the decision makers.

Here is the rule: Always allow the prospect the opportunity to maintain their dignity and feel good about working with you.

What questions do you have prepared in order to tread lightly through uncovering your prospect’s decision-making process?

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