In b2b sales, the decision making process involves:
- a Researcher, who identifies suppliers capable of solving their organization’s need
- an Expert, who understands their need, well enough, to help a supplier to solve it
- a Decider, who knows how each project will change their organization and prioritizes which deserves their cash.
- an Influencer, who bridges the gap between Expert and Decider. They understand the need, and also see how it fits into their organization’s plans.
In a small organization, these roles can be filled by a single person. In larger organizations they are almost always different individuals.
Decision-maker is a bit of a mouthful, so we’ve decided to call them the Decider.
This is the person who has absolute control over the final decision of whether to spend their cash on solving this problem.
It is usually someone with a high-level overview of the organization. This is because they need to be able to prioritize what the organization will spend their money on. That means looking at all the problems and opportunities they have, and deciding which will provide the best return on their investment.
This means they are unlikely to get deeply involved in the detail of how these issues will be resolved. They just don’t have time for that. We’ll call the detail people, the Experts. And the people who link the Experts to the Decider are the Influencers. More of them, later.
Sometimes Experts and Influencers claim they are the Decider because:
– they don’t want us to go over their heads and undermine their power status
– they haven’t thought through the possibility that there are other people in their organization who have a greater say than they do
– they feel they would like to make the decision
Don’t worry too much about having any contact with the Decider. They are notoriously difficult to engage, because they are dealing with many projects just like ours. The key people we need to set up relationships with, are their Influencers.
To identify the Decider, start at the very top of the organization and work down, towards their Expert. It’s unlikely the CEO is the Decider, but check out the Head Of Finance, because they often have this role.
Still no luck, start working down towards the Expert. It is probably somebody who has the power to choose between projects about the same size as ours.
If there is still no Decider on the list, try the following:
– ask somebody in their organization
– internet search with their organization name
– internet search their organization with another project similar to ours
– internet search for their organization structure