This is tricky. If you try to push for a decision with a person who is not the decision maker, they could feel boxed in and ultimately never present your information to the levels above.
But the big question with Sales Presentation Skills that begs to be answered here is: Why are you talking to the person who is not the decision maker? I realize that you can’t always get directly to the decision maker, but you do need to know right up front what decisions the person you’re speaking with can and cannot make.
So let’s assume that you are not able to meet with the decision maker because the person you are meeting with made you believe that they were the decision maker. In this instance, you need to softly turn things around so you can get to the decision maker.
The best way we talk about in our Presentation Skills Seminars to do this is to simply ask the person, “Who would we need to run this by as a courtesy in order to get it implemented?” You will find at this point they will usually give you a name because they do not feel you are trying to pull authority from them.
Once you have that name say, “So if we are going to run this by Jody in order to get it implemented, what is the best way for us to get her involved right up front? I want to do what will make this the easiest for you to ensure your greatest success, and I have found from past history that it works best for us to get the decision-maker involved early.”
If for some reason they cannot get Jody in the room, then the next question you need to ask is, “So thinking of Jody, what are some of the questions and challenges she will throw at you in regards to (list what you are trying to implement)?”
This will get the person you are meeting with to think from Jody’s perspective instead of their own, and ask you some more challenging questions. It will also give you a good chance to learn what Jody may be like and offer suggestions on how to proceed.
I know that almost every sales and presentation book tells you absolutely to deal only with the decision maker. But the reality is, in today’s world, you can sometimes make the person with whom you’re meeting an excellent internal candidate and salesperson for you.
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