Key Decision Makers Don't

Quick Summary: KDMs do not make decisions without underlying support.


It is easy to mistake a key decision maker as being THE customer.  In most cases, KDMs will not make a favorable decision without the express agreement of their staffs.  KDMs realize that their staffs are the individuals that will be tasked with making the proposed solution effective.  Without their support, KDMs simply don’t make the desired key decision. Instead, they may choose to make the decision to make no decision.  Do not rely on KDMs as THE customer

Adding to the title of this article may make more sense:  Key Decision Makers Don’t Make Decisions by Themselves.  Often, Key Decision Makers are mistakenly viewed as being THE customer.  In most cases, they are not.  This is especially true in larger organizations.  In those organizations, individuals with signature or decision-making authority do so only after the firm recommendation and consensus of others in the organization.  The article in this collection, “Consensus is What Counts,” discusses this notion in greater detail.

Focusing on the KDM as THE customer can actually backfire.  Although they are empowered to say yes, many other individuals in the organization are more likely to be empowered to say no and stop a deal dead in its tracks.  Any savvy senior executive knows that they must have the support of others to implement their plans and decisions.  In most cases, KDMs, by the nature of their jobs and responsibilities, are not familiar with the day-to-day tactical aspects of the people reporting to them.  Those individuals may resent their boss making a decision or being involved in the details or even working with the sales rep before they have become involved.  If a sales rep ignores those individuals, there is a very good chance that they will stymie any programs that were decided without their involvement.  Most often, their tactics, which may be conscious or unconscious, will be subtle.  For example, they may focus on other projects with presumed higher priority or feel that it will take an inordinate amount of time to work out the details, or form a committee to study how to implement the proposed solution.  The list of reasons to not proceed in a timely way is almost endless.  Once the KDM is confronted with this resistance, they are likely to lose interest or postpone their decision.  They may be reluctant to definitively say no, but will let the “no decision,” which is a decision in itself, linger.

A better approach is to find THE customer within the organization that can easily see a direct benefit in implementing your solution and focus on them as THE customer.  They can become your ally in identifying the other individuals that can positively influence the Key Decision Maker.  Sell to these individuals first, so they can help you change a Key Decision Maker’s “Don’t” into a Key Decision Maker’s “Do.”

Article Number : 5.030203   

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