Decision by Committee (blech)

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 More and more often purchasing is done by a committee. There are two problems for salespeople that come along with The Committee:


Your main contact is one of many vs. the one.


In the past, your main contact was the be all and end all decision making vehicle. Today, there are lots of people working together.

The new team might even be made up of people you have never met.


Before you start reading the rest, here are a few definitions:

Advocate – love you, your company, and the products/solutions you’re recommending.

Neutral – don’t know you or your product and haven’t formed any opinions about the “right way” to accomplish the committee’s goal.

Unfriendly or Enemy – this is the person who might have a different solution or vendor as their preferred option for the project/purchase.


Learn more, get introduced, and be sure to understand your main contacts position within the committee. Onto the players on the committee…..


§  Orange Cone – the person on the committee that wants everyone to know how important they are so they keep popping up with opinions.


Be inclusive: figure out a way to have the Orange Cone believe in your solution. If you can’t bring them over to advocacy, can you at least make them a neutral party?


§  Slow/Stop Sign – someone who flip flops from stopping the process completely, then lets it move forward until BAM they flip back to stop again.


Here is the perfect example of what some people’s behavior looks like when they are in the risk and fear zone. It isn’t even that they are unfriendly to you or your solution; they haven’t been convinced that making any decision is a good idea. How can you reduce and hopefully eliminate the fear?


§  Steamroller – comes with their own agenda (perhaps even another vendor) and tries to drive over everyone else.


The problem with a steamroller is that you can’t stop it. Instead learn more about what their actual authority levels are within the committee PLUS see how other members take their behavior. You may be pleasantly surprised when you begin to figure it all out.


§  Line Painter – makes sure that everyone knows the direction of traffic and how things are “suppose to” go. Don’t try crossing their wet paint.


This is another player that you will need to find out how their piece fits into the committee puzzle. Don’t play inside their lines if no one else does, but if the other members defer to their direction – find out how to create a proposal that fits.


§  Road Closed – this is the person on the committee who believes that doing nothing is less risky than taking any action at all.


See slow/stop sign above – remember this is the extreme version, so extreme measures may be necessary to eliminate their feeling of risk.

IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP: find out how often your main contact gets their way!



Now for the second scary part of decision making by committee:


Someone else may be presenting your solution, product, company

and they’re not a salesperson!


This doesn’t mean you don’t need to work hard on being the person who presents to the committee!

Rather this is when that just isn’t an option at all.

This detour to the sales process is frightening because you have no way of knowing what the terrain looks like or how much longer it might take.

Instead of being hands off: work with your main contact to ensure they have all the skills they need to drive your solution through the work zone. Create the proposal they are handing out, give them enough copies for everyone on the committee.

Make it as easy as possible for them to convince everyone that you are the best solution!



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