Who Did You Say Makes The Decision?

One of the great mysteries of sales and sales training is how little time is spent on the decision making process. For that matter how many sales managers help their salespeople understand the process? I never did as a manager. The assumption in many sales calls is that the person you are in front of is the decision maker, when in fact that person may have been the only one available to see you or they’re the filter for the real decision maker.

Actually, there is a larger question than who makes the decision. The gut wrencher is how do people make decisions. Think about this for a second. How do you make decisions to buy things? I thought about this a couple of months ago and decided that this is my process:

  1. I decide that I (or we) want or need something. (And oh, is there a difference between these two!)
  2. I look at the product or service options to see which one fits best to the need/want.
  3. If my wife and I make the decision together we discuss the pros and cons.
  4. Typically, for large decisions I like to sleep on it over night.
  5. Costs, quality, feedback from others who have used the product are part of the decision.
  6. I look at the person selling the product to see if I or we like them.
  7. If my “gut” says go for it I or we buy the product. (Believe me my wife has a lot to say even though this description may not indicate that.

Of course there are other factors. When will the decision be, by whom, if it’s a committee who will present to the committee etc. “How” digs below the surface. If you hear a prospect say that the CEO makes the decision and you walk away hoping that your contact will present the product correctly you are making a bonehead mistake. What factors will the CEO consider, will the people affected by the product have any input, what will be the determining factor(s) if more than one product are being considered? Does the CEO turn his chair to the window and contemplate his navel before he makes the decision? Dig, dig and dig some more until you’re satisfied that you know “how” people make decisions.

The Final Thought: If someone tells you he is going to make a “realistic decision” you immediately understand that he has resolved to do something bad. Mary McCarthy (Novelist and Critic)


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