Ever since you’ve been a child, you’ve had this remarkable and almost uncanny ability to get what you want, whether it was a cookie, a toy, or permission.
You knew how to decisively demand, or politely request, your needs and desires to a parent, sibling, friend, teacher, aunt, uncle, grandparent, or unsuspecting and empathetic soul who could help you achieve your pursuit for immediate gratification! Yet perhaps what’s most impressive about your childhood performance is that you always knew who your decision maker was! With laser-like precision, you’d find and relentlessly ask that person for what you wanted. You were never deterred, dejected, or rejected.
And if they defiantly declared, “No!” this was a mere and minor obstacle. A temporary delay, for you’d quickly scan the room or playing field, and then, with the speed and accuracy of a heat-seeking missile, you’d find a new target. A new decision-maker. Now what’s really amazing, is you had these finely-honed skills, attitudes, and behaviors at the age of five!
However, at some point in one’s adult life, that moxie, savvy and tenacity when it comes to finding and dealing with decision-makers is often magically eliminated or surgically deleted from one’s DNA. Where does it go? Poof! How does it disappear?
Today’s column might be shorter than previous ones, yet it’ll be long on helping you drive relationships, results, and revenue for a lifetime! Here’s a pretty basic, simple, and incredibly powerful business tenet.
If you want a decision, ask a decision-maker! You must discover, quickly and accurately, who’s a player versus a pretender. Who’s a decision-maker versus an evaluator, recommender, suggester, or influencer.
I’ll never diminish the quality and humanity of another person who’s not a decision-maker. However, if I’m expecting them to give me the thumbs-up, a nod of approval, or say “yes” to an idea, solution or agreement, and they don’t have the power or authority to do so, I’m wasting their time and mine! Ouch! Frustrating!
The following questions have been created to help you politely and professionally, cut-to-the-chase. Select and use the ones applicable to you, your business, culture, product or service, and sales cycle. No, you don’t pose these questions right out-of-the-box. If you were to greet a prospect or customer with, “Hi, nice to see you. So is this your decision or somebody else’s?” That would be goofy and stupid!
You still must develop rapport and discover what problems need to be solved, needs filled, and dreams or goals realized.
Take a peek at these 18 questions and play with the possibilities:
1. From whose budget will this investment be made?
2. Whose budget will be used to help you (reference their previously stated goals or desired outcomes)?
3. Whose goals or strategic initiatives are most impacted by this decision?
4. What role will they play in the decision-making process?
5. Tell me more about your decision-making process.
6. And who will that involve or include?
7. How will the success of our products, services, contributions, or solutions be evaluated or assessed?
8. And who will be doing that assessment or evaluation?
9. To make sure we’re all on the same page, how soon can we all get together?
10. Whose goals or initiatives are at stake?
11. Who approves our final game plan?
12. If there’s a question or a disagreement about our game plan, who makes the final call?
13. Will this be your decision or might some of your other leaders be involved? Who would that include?
14. Will this be your decision, or will you be making suggestions to another leader or team member? Who might that be?
15. If this was your decision, how would you decide? Or, how would you like for us to work together?
16. Who will be most affected by the success or impact of this solution, approach, or game plan?
17. Ethically, I have a responsibility or ethical obligation to the president, CEO, owner, committee, board, senior leadership team, etc., to understand what he/she/they would like to accomplish, and I’d hate to commit an ethical breach. How can you help bring us all together to play with the possibilities, consider your alternatives, or explore various solutions (use their specific language for a desired outcome or goal)?
18. On occasion, some clients like to include others in the decision-making process, because their company has various levels of approval-authority, and it’s usually based upon a dollar amount. How might that come into play, if at all, with your company’s decision-making process?
Thanks to my friend and consultant extraordinaire, Alan Weiss, who inspired me to create the preceding questions.
I strongly suggest and unequivocally urge you to rip or cut out this column. Read it repeatedly. Highlight it. Study it. Internalize it. Stick it in your briefcase, wallet, purse, or PDA. Keep it close by. Read it again. Apply it. Execute it. Use it to help others benefit and attain a more favorable future. You’ll also earn more and become more. Because you’ve made the decision, to get decisions, from decision makers!
Jeff Blackman is a speaker, author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer who lives part-time on Marco Island. His clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to jeffblackman.com to subscribe to his free e-letter.