Identify Decision Makers

By Carolee Boyles

When you think you’re dealing with an incompetent client, most of the time you’re simply talking to the wrong person, says Robert Ayrer, president of REA Performance Consultants, a California company that provides selling-skills training seminars. “It very seldom happens in sales that you get an interested buyer to sit down with you who’s a complete moron,” he explains. “Usually it’s a purchasing agent who’s working off incomplete information. He’s gotten a request from someone else in the company, and he doesn’t make buying decisions, he only makes sourcing decisions. That means he’s not authorized to purchase anything; he’s only there to gather information and feed it upstairs. The interesting thing is, after he’s talked to two or three sales people in a given industry, he speaks the jargon of the industry without understanding what he’s talking about. He sounds like he knows what he’s talking about, when he really doesn’t.”

At this point in the process, the challenge is to get past the purchasing agent and get to the person who really understands and knows about the product. The best way to accomplish that, Ayrer says, is to be sure that you’re armed with several highly technical questions about the way in which the prospect intends to use the product. “Then when you talk to the purchasing agent, ask him a very technical question about how he’s going to use whatever it is that you’re selling,” Ayrer says. “As soon as he comes back with that information, ask him another highly technical question. He will not go back a third time to whoever really wants the product. Instead, he’ll refer you in to whoever has the technical information.”

Robert Ayrer is president of REA Performance Consultants Inc. in Huntington Beach, CA. Call 714/968-4136 or email