Tue. Sep 18th, 2018

Identifying The Decision Maker

Tell me if this one has ever happened to you.  You called a restaurant and asked for the person in charge of buying the advertising.  The person who picked up says they are, indeed, the person who buys the advertising and yes, they’re willing to meet with you.

The following week you walked in at 10 am, as instructed, for your Client Needs Analysis meeting.  You waited for about 15 minutes until a guy came out of the kitchen and told you he totally forgot about the meeting and that he was short on time, but “what’dya got for me?”

You started talking about the package your boss mentioned in that morning’s sales meeting and all of a sudden, something you said sparked interest.  Maybe it was a watch party with an appearance by a local star athlete.  The person you were meeting with you told you that business had been rough at night early in the week, so maybe something like this could really spark things.  

From there, everything you saw was a buying signal.  The person pointed out where the show could broadcast and even mentioned some specials that they could do.  Even the waiter wiping down the tables to get ready for lunch made a comment about how cool it would be to do this.

Then came the question about cost.  You quickly blurted out the number and threw in something about talent and tech fees being included, the number of spots and promos – and waited for the reaction.  To your surprise, he didn’t seem to have any problem with the number and you started thinking you had this in the bag…until the kiss of death came:


Turns out, the person you just met with wasn’t really the decision maker.  They were just another gatekeeper who said they made the advertising decisions.  What they meant to say was that they could say no, but they couldn’t say yes.

Many of us spend too much time with someone who cannot say yes.  This is the main prospecting challenge most people face, not identifying which businesses to call, but identifying the person you need to talk with, at that business, and then getting in touch with them.  

I used the restaurant example because they’re notorious for having General Managers who aren’t the owners and aren’t authorized to spend any money without the permission of the owner.  This underscores the importance of making sure you’re dealing with the right person – the one who can approve spending money.  There are many reasons for this, but the main one is that when this scenario happens, you now have to trust Mr. or Ms. Restaurant GM to pitch your idea to the owner.  It’s always best if you’re the one who presents to the decision maker, as it increases your chances of getting a deal, immensely. 

A good tip is to make sure you ask the question a couple times, a couple different ways.  For example, when they first pick up the phone, you should confirm that they’re the person who makes the advertising decisions.  If they agree to meet, ask something again such as “Is their anyone else involved in making the advertising decisions that should join us at the meeting?”  I’ve heard some reps ask, “Are you the owner of the business?” so that if they say they aren’t they can ask, “Is the owner available to meet with us?” which can also help you gain insight on how the business operates depending on their answer.

The bottom line is that we don’t have time to waste chasing people who tell us how much they love our idea but under no circumstances can approve the spend.  By double (or triple) checking that you’re talking with the right person, you can save yourself a lot of time.  Our jobs are really hard as it is, trying to sell to someone who can’t buy makes it pretty close to impossible!

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