An important part of your research phase of the sales process is knowing your customer, who makes the final decision, and who's on the committee if there is one. Ask more questions, ask how you can assist, and ask to be introduced
- Pam Meyers is the business manager for a regional office of a large financial planning and investment company. Their offices are located in your territory, and you've had them on your prospect list, and now, after a few calls, she's given you an appointment. The presentation has gone exceptionally well. She's asked good questions, and you're feeling really upbeat. You decide to go ahead and test out closing this sale, given the positive impression of the call. However, Pam then tells you, "Well, I think your program is excellent, "but I don't have final authority "to make the decision to buy." This is a very common objection, and one that you could encounter in both large and small companies.
It can be a legitimate obstacle you'll face, however, it also can be a gentle way for a buyer to tell you that they're not interested. Here are some of the steps you should follow, questions you should ask, and some responses I've used when faced with this situation. First, if you've done your effective research before your meeting with the buyer, you won't be surprised by her statement. If you're hearing this comment after you've had more than one form of communication with her, then the fault is on you.
You have to learn their buying process sooner. Next, understanding the type of customer you're calling on should be a flag for you, too. In this situation, a regional office for a large company oftentimes won't have local buying authority. This again goes back to the critical nature of research before your call. Ask other sales reps, the department assistant, or other contacts at the company to help you learn about their procedures. Third, if they aren't the one making the decision, who does? If the buyer truly does like your program, she could be a really big help.
Just don't get the names of the other decision-makers, ask the buyer to make an introduction for you. Fourth, some buyers will tell you that they'll discuss your offering with other decision-makers. Only let this happen as a last resort. Say, "Thank you so much for your support, "but I really want to be able to make and present my offering "directly to the others." Lastly, ask your buyer for assistance to meet with other decision-makers. Bear in mind that committees can often be a case study in corporate bureaucracy with constant delays.
However, if you can meet everyone, it'll put you in an outstanding situation to close a sale. For me, getting to meet the committee is one of the best ways to get sales. No authority, not my decision, or it's done by committee, is a very common objection. However, it also ties back to the critical importance of the research, planning, and preparation stage of the sales process. Asking questions and learning the buying process of your customer is as important as your presentation itself.