One of the first mistakes I made when I initially started doing BD was how’d I’d ask if someone if they were the decision maker.
“So X, would you say that you’re the decision maker for this.”
“Yes” was the answer I received 95% of the time. I’d say the number of actual decision makers I was talking too was probably closer to 50%. The incongruence emanated from the fact that I was asking all wrong.
Very few strangers have the authenticity to admit that they don’t hold much power:
“No, I’m actually just a minion to my overload boss.”
Of course someone is going to indicate they’re a decision making power when you flat out ask them. It’s like asking a parent if their child is smart…95% of people will say yes meaning many will embellish.
So to get to the bottom of this question it’s best to ask a bit more indirectly. Here’s 3 ways you can show a little gamemanship:
“So X when decisions like this are typically made, who all gets involved?”
“So X, what is the typical process for deciding on an offering like this?”
“So X, who else on your team would be interested in learning about this?”
All three of these approaches are likely to yield a much more reliable answer than asking someone flat out. This technique also appears more consultative which makes you come off less salesy. This is good.
In every situation, there’s always an indirect way to collect the data we’re looking for . I prefer the approach that blinds people to the fact that you’re looking for it because the subsequent data is much more reliable.