In yesterday’s post, we discussed some things you can do to reduce the number of times you deal with getting a “maybe” from your prospect.

Today I want to visit with you about how to successfully navigate those times when your sales discussions, discovery and recommendations must be completed with a decision influencer instead of a decision maker.

There are three major mistakes I have seen sales people make over the years that delay or derail their ability to close the sale.

  1. Failing to understand the role of the person you are meeting with in the actual buying process.
  2. Failing to invite the final decision maker to be involved from the beginning.
  3. Failing to treat a decision influencer as being equally important as the final decision maker.

I normally avoid using negative words in my blogs, such as “failing”.  However, I intentionally did so with all three of the above mistakes because when you do those things – your chance of success is greatly reduced.

The remedy for the first two mistakes are actually quite simple.  You just ask for the information. For example:


  • “Would you share with me what your role will be in making a decision to move forward with our product (or service)?”  -or- “Will there be anyone else involved in the final decision?”
  • “I often find that the person with the final decision responsibility will have questions that may differ from those we will discover today.  Would it be possible for them to join us for a few minutes?”


The solution for the third mistake requires further explanation.

When you find yourself meeting with a decision influencer instead of the actual decision maker, and that decision maker will not be joining your meeting – you absolutely must treat that decision influencer with the exact same importance you would the decision maker.

I have seen sales training before that recommended that you never make presentations to non-decision makers.  I suppose there could be some rare situations where that may be applicable, but as a general rule I do not support that thought process.  Instead, do the following in your meeting:

  1. Establish the role of the decision influencer in the buying process.  Since the have influence on that decision, you need to leave that meeting with them being an ally.
  2. Establish your role in the buying process as they move the process forward.  Paint the picture of you working for them in gathering important information and delivering recommendations with them to the others involved in making the decision.  Help build the consensus.
  3. Close the decision influencer in almost the exact same way you would a decision maker.  Use something along this line: “I want to ask you a question – and please feel completely free to be open and honest with me, even if that means telling me no.  Now that you and I have found some specific issues that we can help your company solve – and you have seen the value that we bring to the table – if the final decision was yours and yours alone to make, would we be implementing the programs I have recommended?”

Final thought: once you have your meeting with a decision influencer, never, never, never leave a meeting without having your next meeting clearly lined out and on their calendar.


In your industry, how often do you find that you must present to decision influencers?

What are your favorite questions to ask a decision influencer?