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How to Avoid Having Your Deals Sabotaged by Non-decision Makers

“My contact (who is the decision-maker) said they decided to hold off for now – but the conversation before that was all positive… What happened?”

Several things could have gone wrong; however, for today’s newsletter, I’d like to share with you one scenario that could be derailing your sales without you knowing it.

It’s An Inside Job – Selling equals change. The decision-maker is replacing one solution for another in hopes of achieving a better result. But not everyone likes change. Most people resist it.

So let’s say you sell a software solution and your target audience is small businesses (this scenario works with large companies as well, so hang with me here)

The decision-maker has a strong interest in your idea and can see the potential benefits; however, they want to have an internal meeting to go over it with their team and would like a call back next week.

Next week comes, and that “once-hot prospect” is now ice cold after meeting with the end-user (the person who would be using the new software daily, etc.)

It’s important to understand average human nature when it comes to change, and it’s not unheard of for an “end-user” to want to avoid change at all costs.

Here are a few reasons why they don’t like change:

  • Fear of being replaced (your solution cuts down on their work)
  • Fear of being incompetent when learning a new program
  • Laziness – They don’t want to learn a new system – even if it’s better for the company

These are just some of the issues/concerns that an “end-user” may have when approached about implementing a new solution.

If you are selling the fact that your software solution will help their company save 20 plus person-hours a week, you need to realize an end-user may not be thrilled to hear this.

Then again, they may be so overworked that they would love it! The problem is, you don’t want to leave your deal to chance.

All it takes is for an end-user to place a little doubt in the decision-maker’s mind to scare them off, and when a decision-maker is uncertain of what to do, they often stay at the status quo.

Hence the “We’ve decided to hold off for now” response (again, I’m not saying this is ALWAYS the reason why for this response, but if what you sell impacts non-decision makers – end users / IT staff, etc. – you would be wise to get in the habit of adding a preemptive strike in your sales process)

How to Avoid Having Your Deals Sabotaged by Non-decision Makers

So What Do I Do?

So here’s what you do. First of all, it’s up to the salesperson to realize whom their solutions impact both in a positive and potentially negative way.

And at the appropriate time during the qualification phase (which is before the presentation phase), I like to bring up the scenario.


Mr. Decision Maker, the software solution we have will shave an average of 20 person-hours per week while delivering faster reports with fewer errors. Now I’m not sure what you pay your (______) department per hour (slight pause), and I don’t need to know, but have you thought about how they would take the news of this time savings?

(I may even add – purposely not giving them a chance to answer the first question)

“Would this be a welcomed sight so they could focus on other areas that are being neglected, or do you think this could be viewed as a threat to their job security?”

At this point, I don’t care what the answer is. I just wanted to plant a seed.

If the decision-maker feels they must speak to the end-users, I’ve armed him/her with a reason why an end-user may show some resistance – and that resistance isn’t coming from a place that would be in the decision-maker’s best interest.

Plus, if the decision-maker says, “Well, yea, they could see it as a threat,” I could add, “How do you feel about that?” or “What happens if they do show resistance… where does that leave us?”

Dealing with those possibilities/scenarios ahead of time will significantly enhance your ability to neutralize non-decision makers before they have a chance to wipe out your deal for all the wrong reasons.

Think ahead by putting yourself in the other party’s shoes and view the situation with their glasses, and you will see what you need to do to increase your odds of winning the sale.

– Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone teaches inside sales teams how to pick up the phone and close business. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – An online sales training company offering on-demand sales training and consulting.