Weekly Tip: Who’s the decision-maker?

The changing of the buying dynamic in large corporations has made identifying the real decision-maker hard. Sure, you ask, “Who’s the decision maker?” The problem is, the person you ask often answers, “I am!” When he or she receives your proposal, you are told, “I have to run this by somebody.” It seems everyone has to either get approval from a superior or validation from Purchasing or Procurement. This means your contact is a carrier-pigeon and your message is many steps away from the real decision-maker.
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If you have questions about power, people or politics, ask process questions. Ask your contact the following:

  •  “What process does your company follow in making these types of decisions?”
  •  “The last time you brought on a new vendor/supplier/partner, were there any delays in the process? What were they?”
  •  “If you think we are the best alternative, are there any initiatives or other projects that might get in the way of bringing us on?”

Asking these questions gets you closer to the truth about the decision and the real decider without challenging the authority of your contact.