Qualifying: Will the REAL Decision Maker Please Stand Up


How often are salespersons found to be surprised, even shocked, when we do not close a sale that we thought was a “sure thing?”  This happens too often.  One of the principal reasons this happens is that the salesperson was never actually dealing with the REAL decision maker.  For the purpose of this article the term “decision maker” will mean the individual or the set of individuals required to approve a purchase.

As the great J. Douglas Edwards was fond of saying, “If we are NOT talking directly to the decision maker, pack up and leave; unless we just want to practice some.”  Determining the identity of the decision maker is an imperative part of the sales process.  A decision maker could be anyone of the following types:

  • An individual fisherman in a retail store looking to buy a new fishing rod.
  • A husband and wife couple in a dealership looking to buy a new automobile.
  • A team of wholesale buyers looking to approve a new product or brand.
  • A committee needing to approve a new construction proposal.

As we can see, the number of decision makers can be one to several.  Therefore it is very important to know exactly who EVERYONE is that is going to have any say in the buying decision.

Sometimes the purchase can be consummated by the first decision maker we meet in the sales attempt.  That could very likely be the case in the first two examples above (individual and couple).  However, there are times when the first decision maker we meet in the sales attempt may not be able to actually consummate a sale.  They may only be able to recommend the purchase to a higher authority.  This could very likely be the case in the last two examples above (team and committee).  It is critical to our sales strategy that we know whether our presentation is being given to persons who can sign a contract or simply recommend.

Finally we must know HOW and WHEN the WHO is going to decide.  To create the best possible sales strategy it is necessary to know how the decision maker usually buys.  For example in the case of the individual or the couple above, we should most likely be prepared to close the sale immediately following our presentation.  In the case of the team or committee above, there may be a need to close something less than the sale (i.e. a second presentation appointment).  The Sales Professional will ALWAYS use great sales techniques to close something following the presentation.  They will either close for the sale or know that they need to close for the next step toward the sale.  Before giving a sales presentation be certain to know the WHO, HOW and WHEN.

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1 Comment for this entry

July 16th, 2011 on 3:20 pm

Very clear, very useful information.