Written for Catersource
Is the Decision Maker Really the Most Important Figure?
You'll hear people encourage you to get to the decision maker because they have the ultimate power and final say. This is the wrong approach; it really is, because the decision maker isn't the one you need to impress; it's the influencer. They have a lot more control over the situation than you think, and if you fail to impress them, your chances of success are lowered.
There is much importance in knowing who the decision maker will be with each buyer; it's not necessarily made clear from the moment you make contact with the company or social client. However, the reality is to figure out who the influencer is.
What is an Influencer?
Traditionally speaking, you will find the influencer tends to be a person that has the client's ear, often working with the buyer and their advice is highly valued. They may have a list of responsibilities, including researching options before briefing the client on their opinion. They pay close attention to detail, and they don't miss a thing.
While they seem all-powerful, they have no control over the budget, or authority when it comes to making the final decision. However, the influencer remains very essential, as you will discover shortly.
The influencer could be the best friend, mother, or mother-in-law of the decision maker as well as potentially being a co-worker. They aren't paying the bill, but they have a lot of influence over the buyer; which is why you should never assume you know who the influencer is.
Next, you've got to find out who the influencer is, and it doesn't take much to do this in a casual manner. After making your appointment with the client, just follow this little conversation:
Salesperson: "great then we'll meet on Tuesday, is there anyone assisting you in making your decision?"
Client: "Yes, my best friend, Jenna."
Salesperson: "Can Jenna meet on Tuesday as well?"
Client: No, she's out of town."
Salesperson: "Let's meet when she returns."
You'll want to make sure that the influencer is at your meeting. You don't want to risk the influencer potentially showing up at your competitor's meeting and not yours. So, next time you are faced with a meeting with the influencer, remember to impress them and not just shrug them off.
Really, there is a lesson to be learned here. It's not always about who you are; it's the kind of influence you have. The influencer may be a secondary position, but it carries high-ranking responsibilities and some serious power that often goes unnoticed and underestimated. A lot of the time, the little guy holds the keys to the next room, and this is a solid example of just that.