Remember the definition of a true prospect for your products or services?
- They have a need
- They have money to buy
- They can make the decision
When the ultimate "yes" decider is not in the room at the beginning of the conversation you have no opportunity to determine the #1 criteria above. Yes, the person downstream with whom you have the connection might have been deputized to research the options, to filter out the chaff from the wheat. But you won't know what that ultimate "yes" person really wants and needs from you unless you talk with them directly.
Another part of the discussion that you can't really have (or at least can't get your best answer to) without the "yes" decider is the discussion about budget. The filter person might have been given a number, but their number will likely be much smaller than the "yes" decider's number. If the CEO wants to do a project, even if the primary budget for it isn't big enough he or she can find the money in other buckets to get it done. He or she will reallocate the funding in other departments, from other projects, to yours if the potential rewards and/or the avoided consequences are significant enough in your project to justify doing so.
A common concern expressed by salespersons who understand the importance of the true decision maker in their sales process is how to find out that information without offending their contact in the company. Nobody wants to hear that they don't have enough mojo for you to talk to them. And many of them are decision makers - they are limited to the answer "no", but they ARE decision makers. Consider these questions:
- What is the usual process that your company uses to make decisions on this type of project?
- Who, if anyone, could veto a decision to move forward with this?
- If I were able to come up with a viable solution for your issue, what would be the next steps?
Sales time is expensive, for you and for your prospective customer. You will make more sales and experience (and create) far less frustration if you master this sales fundamental. No approach works 100 percent of the time, but these have been demonstrated to be pretty reliable. Good luck!