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Gaining access to the customer decision maker 

Keys to Sales Success Series

#1 Gaining access to the customer decision maker


Shortening sales cycles, increased sales success and deal size all depend on working directly with the decision maker who will buy your product or service.  All too often, sales people spend countless hours and resources working with a customer sponsor, only to find out their manager had very different criteria for buying.  Additionally, the most effective sales techniques using value justifications are very effective with decision makers, but less so with customer sponsors lower in the organization.  These sponsors frequently focus on features and functions at the expense of overall value of your solution to the customer’s business. 

Decision makers who have to get approval from one or two layers higher in the organization are simply another type of Sponsor.

The decision maker not only has the authority to select the solution, but can also write the check. This is the person who can truly sponsor your business solution.  For this reason, we will call this person our “Business Sponsor”.  All other customer contacts are simply Sponsors.

In this article, we’ll discuss the basic flow in the three phases of accessing the Business Sponsor:

1)      Determining if the Sponsor we are talking with is the Business Sponsor

2)      If we are not talking to the BP, how do we determine who the BP is

3)     How to gain access to the Business Sponsor


1)     If a Business Vision for your solution has been successfully created with a Sponsor, they will naturally want to proceed with validation steps. Validation steps could include demos, customer references, value justification spreadsheets, or any other activities that can verify your company’s ability to deliver the value achieved through your solution.  This is a key Pivot Point.  Your prospect is asking you for something, so it is reasonable to request something in return. It is very fair for you to ask “If we complete these validation steps to your satisfaction, are you able to commit to buying our solution or do others need to be involved in the final decision?” If you are talking to the true Business Sponsor you will receive an unqualified conformation of their ability to make the final decision.


2)     Any hesitation is your clue that you are not talking to the Business Sponsor, and you need to ask if any other people will be involved in the final decision.  Make sure you are thorough in investigating this area to ensure you can identify the final decision maker.


3)  Once the Business Sponsor is identified, ask to meet with them to add their validation steps to the Validation Plan. If you sense the Sponsor is not going to support this reasonable request, ask to speak with the other people the Sponsor mentioned. Perhaps one of these people will help you get to the Business Sponsor.   If the Sponsor won’t introduce you to other potential Sponsors, you need to find another way in or consider dropping the opportunity. While talking to any prospect seems like a good idea, you time is often better spent developing new leads.

Please feel free to post any questions or thoughtful opinions on this article. Contrary views are welcomed!

Highlighted phrases are key concepts that will be discussed in future articles.

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