Decision Makers Care About Value

Which of these two questions sounds like something a Decision Maker would ask?

"That's a very interesting analytics feature. Can your software integrate with our ERP system?" or"Sounds like you can pull some very useful performance data. Can you give me some examples of how that has helped other customers reduce operational costs?"

The answer is Questions 2 and there is a very simple reason why: Users care about process, Decision Makers care about business value.

Whether you're focused on sales or customer discovery, understanding who you are talking to is really step one in the process. Remember in B2B sales, no one in the company is created equal. Each person is playing a different, or perhaps no role, in your sales process. Some people are users, others simply provide IT support, but typically there is only one person who can write the check. That's the Decision Maker.

What that means from a salesperson's perspective is that there are often a few people in the organization that can say "no" but only one person that can say "yes". Each of these people will have different needs and a different definition of value. Until you can understand both of those from the Decision Maker's perspective, you'll never close the sale.

Whenever you engage with a new prospect, you need to be able to very quickly determine what role your contact plays in the buying process. If they are not the Decision Maker your job is to bring them into the conversation as soon as possible. If your first contact is regularly not to the Decision Maker then you need to examine your marketing methods, messaging, and offering to understand why. Chances are something is off with one or more of those three and that's causing you not to get through to the right person.

Getting the Decision Maker's attention however is really only half the battle. The next step is trying to determine how to communicate correctly. Chances are the Decision Maker and a User see two very different problems being solved by your product. User's see how your product will improve their process and make their lives easier. Decision Makers are looking for opportunities that add value to their company overall. A good sales process will be able to get either person to say yes, but remember that in the end a yes from the Decision Maker is really the only one that matters.

James Shomar
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