Like a predator disguised as an ally, there are numerous people out there posing as buyers who will consume your time and energy, leaving you with zero ROI for your effort. Yet, salespeople keep going back to these same people, over and over again, engaging in the irrational belief that it will somehow be different, this time. Yes, procurement, vendor relations, HR, and other influencers and gatekeepers are part of the buying process and must be treated with respect. However, it is unethical to put these individuals in the unfair situation of having to think, act, and behave like the buyer, when they are not. The true economic buyer, who is the ultimate decision-maker, has the final say and must have a direct line of access to you, their consultant and adviser for making the best decision. Without that, it’s like that old game of telephone many of us played in primary school where a message was passed from person to person, ending up distorted, inaccurate, and biased by the perceptions of each listener.
How do you know you are dealing with the actual buyer? By finding and focusing on the person who will make the final decision with or without input from others. When you are interfacing with someone who has a choice as to what to do with feedback they receive from peers, subordinates, and superiors, you are dealing with a fully autonomous buyer. By building a solid relationship with that individual while effectively and respectfully interacting with influencers and gatekeepers, you and the customer will end up with better outcomes.