The key thing around authority is that you must ensure you are dealing with someone who has the ability to say yes to a deal… the person who can sign off and get the deal done.
If you aren’t talking to the right person, you’ve got no chance of winning business! You’re simply wasting your time and energy.
In this blog, I am going to share with you the key elements to ensure you have authority, and therefore the opportunity to get the deal done and over the line.
I believe that there are three levels of people within every opportunity that we’ve got to focus.
Focus on selling to decision-makers and to people that create the budgets.
When you start talking to decision-makers, they have the ability to influence and make things happen. They can sometimes recommend you speak to their team (for input), but if they’re on board with your service, they will have the authority to sign off and that makes the sales process much easier.
Understanding the decision makers might mean that you have to understand the different roles within the company and subsequently what their focus in the business is. For example, CEOs generally aren’t interested in the details – they want to know the outcomes and the return on investment. Adjust your language and make sure you’re focusing on what they need to see.
Get the decision-makers involved as early as possible (especially for big deals), and you’ll be in better position to get everyone onboard.
Underneath the decision makers are another important group of people, these are the influencers. Influencers are critical in the sales process.
Now, I don’t mean a “social media influencer”. I’m talking about the person/people whom the decision makers rely on heavily, such as operations managers or anyone who will implement the day-to-day of your service. They won’t always be the person that can make the decision, but they’ll be a big part of the sales process and a part of the final deal decision.
A great way of being able to understand how an influencer works is to ask them this:
“Who else will be making the decision alongside yourself?”
They might say that they will talk to their Direct (aka Decision Maker), in which case you can reply by asking:
“Great! Tell me more about [them]. What will they be looking for in order to make a decision in this type of area?”
Very rarely can you implement a service without getting an influencer involved. If you don’t do this, it could cause more problems down the line. Very few decision-makers want to implement things that are going to cause the people underneath them to have challenges and issues, so make sure they are onboard.
3. THE DO-ER’S
The Do-er’s in an organisation are those who implement the service on a day-to-day basis.
This group don’t tend to have huge amounts of say in the overall decision itself. They can however have an impact, so you’ll want to make sure we are making their job easier with your proposed service.
If you’re proposing to implementing a service that will be rolled out across a company, get the Do-er’s involved. If the Do-er doesn’t like something, it’s unlikely to hold up your deal, but you’re better off involving them to make sure it ticks as many of the day-to-day boxes as possible, so that we don’t have the Do-er’s fighting back and not wanting to implement a service.
When you focus on authority, you focus on understanding your prospect and their needs. The needs of the Decision-Maker, Influencer and the Do-er’s will be different, so be ready for each of them! Map out these key people and try and define their levels of involvement.
One of the tip is to make sure that you don’t just rely on the decision makers and assume they are guaranteed to give you the result you want. I once lost a piece of business because I assumed the person I was talking to was the CEO, but that person had a shareholder above them who they contacted for advice before purchasing. I hadn’t spoke to the shareholder so I didn’t know what they were looking for, and I lost the deal.
Sometimes the decision makers can actually be above the CEO! It can be board members or it can be stakeholders. A great question for when you get to this stage is:
“Who else will you consult around this decision?”
They may tell you that they’ll involve a shareholder/stakeholder, in which case then you can find out ahead of time what they need to see in order to try and make the decision to go forward.
Take some time to understand the authority for the decision that you want. If you jump into the sales process blindly and assume that who you are talking to will make the decision alone, then you are likely to get caught out and waste lots of time, effort and energy.
I hope this blog has given you an idea of how to approach the decision around authority. Authorities get things singed off and they get money paid. They get deals done! If you understand authority in your prospects, then you are more likely to see results and you are less likely to waste your time.