Is it OK to pursue multiple decision makers within a company at once?
Right now, I have a potential deal in the works with a company, and I've been in contact with multiple decision makers from the firm. These decision makers do coordinate with one another, but are heading different departments. Should I be working out a deal with just one of these decision makers, or is it okay for me to be speaking with several of them at the same time? Your input would be appreciated. Thanks!
In todays day and age you have to have relationships at many levels in an organization for many reasons. First and foremost business people are busier than ever and if you run into a roadblock with one contact you can keep your progress going forward with other contacts.
As many of us are also aware contacts move around much more often than in the past. The average life expectancy for an individual to be at a job now is 2.7 years. If you have multiple relationships inside an organization it makes you less likely to loose the business once you win it.
No in sale you should be careful before taking decision one bad decision make the film the end
Since it seems that they are aware of you talking to the other contacts I'd say its OK.
In fact, current research would say that multiple decision makers in a deal is becoming more and more common as organisations look to de-risk their buying process.
However, it is critical that you are transparent and ethical in your approaches, that you map the contacts, their relationships to each other and their decision making power.
You also need to know what goal you are pursuing for each contact. Here's simple checklist of considerations that might help you build out a strategy for getting the deal over the line
1.Are they part of the final Decision Making Unit?
2.On a scale of 1 - 3 How much influence/power do they have? (3 = lots)
3.What do they think of your firm/solution - Supporter/Interested/Neutral/Opposed etc.
4.What personal and organisational needs do they have?
5.How will these contacts come together to make a decision?
Yes, definitely work across all of them and develop your offering as you go. Make sure you have worked out who is the most senior budget-holder and persuade your strongest advocate to help you lobby to bring the others onside, but tell them all you are doing this.
Another option is to persuade your best advocate to be a 'pilot' for you. With the others, keep checking that you are meeting their needs (both explicit and hidden) and keep abreast of news in the firm that might change the dynamics/timing of buying your product. Good luck!
My background is in both Sales and Marketing. As a consultant, I did a project for a Client developing a database on "Decision Trees" on select companies so this, to me, is important.
Next, not to quibble but I look for the WOMAN--Wounds Opportunities then the MAN - the Money, the Authority and the Need.
Finally, having been an Account Manager with a Fortune 50 Company with a major account, I would have done a matrix of the key decision makers to determine for myself some common issues etc which may uncover some unique opportunities within the account.
Hope this helps.
Try to map their organization in order to understand who is reporting to whom.
Then go after the higher ranked in term of decision power or towards the character that will have the best chance to influence their organization in term of decision.
You need to navigate their organization before presenting any offers.
Sometimes the situations will appears grey and vague but it's generally like this in large corporations.
When you'll have establish your relationships (calls, lunches, presentations), it'll become natural for you to present your offer.
Going into such environments takes time, don't rush it.
In situations like this one of your contacts is likely to be the Key Decision Maker (KDM). This is the person who can say "Yes" when everyone else says "No" and can say "No" when everyone else says "Yes." Even when selling to a committee, there will be a Key Decision Maker. The key is to identify the KDM.
Other players will have an influence on the decision (called Influencers), yet others will be what is called a Technical Expert who will evaluate your proposal and while they can say "No" their No can be overridden by the KDM. Finally, someone in the bunch may also be a Coach who wants this sale to happen and will provide you the information you need to move forward.
The strategy is for you to identify the various players and deal with them accordingly.
I'm also a big believer in the MAN concept put forward by Mark Gordon but I've learned that the three factors, Money, Authority, and Need, don't always reside within one individual. Again, the key is to identify who is who.
I have a free eBook on my site called "Major Account Selling" that elaborates on this topic.
Do you know who the main decision maker will be.
Do you have a time line for the decision from your contacts.
Do you know who will pay for it. is it one department or all departments.
Each person will have a reason for using, are they all the same of are you making different pitches.
Do you know the process format for their decision process.
within your group of contacts do you know if there is a leader of the pack.
Do you know if they have the authority to make the decision or is their level only unto making a recommendation.
If they are all happy with the product and the concept and the price / savings / ROI. then I would be working on finding out more about their process.
Take the position as if they have already said yes. If their buying signals indicate a yes, I would proceed along the yes path until they say no. otherwise you can be taking for a long time with people who can't make up their mind, or have no authority to purchase.
Maybe you can start discussing the implementation, delivery schedule, the requirements that follow after the yes decision. Focus on the process and not the product. Re cap your points, receive the minor yeses, and proceed from there.
As others have mentioned, coordination and transparent communication is key here. You may want to speak with one more than others (due to the nature of the deal), but it should be okay to speak with several of them at the same time in order to exchange ideas and make the best deal possible.
If they are in communication with each other, I would honestly ask both of them at once, which one to continue with. It could get hairy if they disagree, and unfortunately, affect your status with the firm.
That's just my experience with companies. I always try to narrow down to one decision maker. It kills all confusion with deliverables, and makes the contract fulfillment process more definable.