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Talking to the right people

A statement of the obvious - are you speaking to the decision makers?

Often the obvious things can be highly deceptive. In complex environments trying to understand the decision making procedures can be extremely complicated. Be sure you have your facts on who is who?

Here are some thoughts:

  • It’s not always the buying department that makes the decision! They are often merely responding to the purchasing specification laid out by other departments

  • You must build up a picture of the decision maker matrix and understand the subtleties of the interaction between the various departments and individuals

  • Decision makers are made up of four types:

  • Shapers - very senior but not necessarily involved in the day to day

  • Hot Spots - very senior and involved in the day-to-day - budget holders

  • Enablers - relatively senior actively involved in the day to day

  • Passives - low seniority and not involved in the day to day

  • Shapers e.g. the MD or CEO - knowing the top person does not necessarily mean that you are well positioned! Whilst they are influential the ultimate decision to buy may not reside with them!

  • The hot spots tend to be the individuals who hold the purse strings - you need to know these people, the route to them may be via enablers or shapers

  • Enablers can often be the champions for your cause - whilst they may not be the most senior - they could be the white knight or internal champion!

  • Passives are often not in any position at all to influence - however, they often know what is going on - they can be vital to information gathering

  • Be sure that you understand the interaction between these four types

  • Don’t make assumptions; you must map out very clearly the decision making units - particularly in complex environments

  • Try to understand the politics and personal relationships of decision makers as it may not always be as it seems - not understanding the internal workings of the customer is often a major stumbling block.

The most experienced business developers fail as a result of making too many assumptions!

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