I’m often asked by salespeople how they can find out if the person they are arranging to meet with is the decision maker. Whenever I am asked that question, I know that, in almost every case, the person who is asking it is allowing most if not all of their customers, to take control of the selling process. They are usually the type of salesperson who also gives a lot of free advice (unpaid consultancy), has a challenge getting the customer to return their calls and who very often doesn’t get the business.
A few weeks ago, I decided I wanted to purchase a retractable patio blind to shelter our garden patio from the sun and the rain – probably more of the latter. My view was that due to the appalling weather we have been having, I could negotiate a very good price. I spoke to three companies and they all said they would have their local sales representative call me that day. The first sales representative called an hour later. They were very pleasant, answered the key questions I wanted to ask prior to making an appointment, and we agreed a time and date for the appointment. Then they asked me:
“Mr King, will any other person who needs to be involved in making the decision be there as well?”
I replied: “My wife will need to OK the colour of the fabric and she won’t be here. You’d have to leave me some samples or pictures to show her.”
They replied, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that Mr King. Do you have an alternative date and time when you know Mrs King will be there too please?”
Was that a ‘hard’ sell? Not at all! He was just being business like and placing a value on his time. He told me after our meeting that two in three homes he visits where the decision makers are present buy from him. Only one in eight placed an order when he had to make a follow up telephone call, which of course also meant another appointment to get the paperwork signed if they did agree to go ahead. This is also why he will not ever go to an appointment where all decision makers are not present.
So how can you find out if the person you are going to be meeting with is the decision maker?
It’s not rocket science is it? – Just ask!