There’s nothing more frustrating than getting your prospect’s commitment to buy -- before realizing they’re not the decision maker. It’s going to take much longer to get the deal done than you’d anticipated (that is, if you close at all).
Salespeople experience this all the time. However, you can avoid the situation completely by asking the right questions during the discovery process.
The wrong way to ask is, “Are you the decision maker?” Everyone wants to feel important and valued, even if they’re not the ones signing on the dotted line. This question will make your point of contact feel unimportant. Sabotage this relationship, and you’ll lose their influence.
Use this list of 25 questions to figure out who’s the ultimate decision maker without stepping on any toes.
Qualifying Questions About the Decision Maker
Who else is involved in this process?
Who will be using the product? (If they say, “I will,” follow up with, “Is your manager reviewing this purchase as well? What will they be assessing?”)
Which evaluation criteria are the other stakeholders using?
What was the last product in this category you bought? Who was involved in buying it?
What’s the purchase approval process like?
Have you bought a product like this before? (If they say no, ask, “Would you like my help figuring out who to bring in, based on my experience selling to companies like yours?”)
In the past, my customers have asked [job title] and [job title] to participate in this decision. Does that make sense for [prospect’s company]?
Will any other teams or departments be using [product]? Will they want a say in the selection process?
How have decisions like this been made previously?
At the end of the day, how can I help you get this purchase approved?
Is there anyone else I should be meeting with to get the full picture of how you and your colleagues will be using [product] and what your needs are?
[Name], do you handle [product category] decisions for [prospect’s company]?
I’ve found the person with [X responsibility] almost always wants a say in this decision. Should we bring them into this conversation?
I’m sure you’ve seen first-hand how complex the average buying decision is these days. Let’s work together so [company] can start experiencing [specific benefit] as soon as possible. Who do we need to meet with?
How does your [team, department, business] make buying decisions?
Is there a committee assigned to choosing a [vendor, supplier, solution]?
What’s your role in the decision making process?
Should I be aware of any priorities or concerns from other stakeholders?
Who will sign on the dotted line? Would you like any insights I’ve picked up on positioning the solution to people in [X role]?
How long have you been looking into this type of solution, and why did you start? (Their answer will reveal if they’re a junior decision maker responsible for the initial supplier research.)
With my other customers, it’s typically the case that [X professional] likes to share her thoughts. Should we invite her on the call?
Would [likely decision maker] be interested in speaking to [person of matching rank at your company]? (This question helps you get to the budget authority if your prospect is reluctant to give you access.)
Are you the sole owner of this [project, initiative, purchase]?
How can I help you sell this internally?
Do you need any materials from me to present this to your boss?
Originally published May 17, 2017 7:30:00 AM, updated June 28 2019