Million Dollar Consulting® Mindset
From Alan Weiss
Volume 1 Number 1
A monthly newsletter with the objective of quickly and pragmatically helping consultants to improve their craft, results, and lives.
Finding the True, Economic Buyer
Form relationships with true buyers, those people who can authorize a check for your value. Don’t allow yourself to become lost in the world of non-buyers, typically human resource people or those in learning and development (L&D) functions.
They can say “No” but can’t say “Yes.” And there are two other problems:
- Asking someone else to market for you is disastrous. No matter whom they promise to see, they won’t be as knowledgeable or as passionate as you are about your own business.
- You will be seen as their peer, and once that happens, higher level people will not accept you as their peer.
You must learn to accept rejection in this business (the best hitters are successful only about a third of the time) but also to reject acceptance—those people who will tie-up your time without any hope that the light at the end of the tunnel is anything but another train.
Here are some questions I've developed to determine who the true, economic buyer is:
- Whose budget will support this initiative?
- Who can immediately approve this project?
- To whom will people look for support, approval, and credibility?
- Who controls the resources required to make this happen?
- Who has initiated this request?
- Who will claim responsibility for the results?
- Who will be seen as the main sponsor and/or champion?
- Do you have to seek anyone else’s approval?
- Who will accept or reject proposals?
- If you and I were to shake hands, could I begin tomorrow?
A buyer told me that he delegated everything possible, as an effective executive should. He asked why I wouldn’t accept working on a proposal with his human resources director.
“Would you delegate your strategy to her?” I asked.
“Of course not, that’s my responsibility.”
“Do you pass your strategy by her before you finalize it?”
“No, like all department heads at that level, her job is to implement.”
“Well, you and I are talking about a strategic decision with this project, and she might or might not be the implementer. Further, your subordinates will tend to be very uncomfortable with this kind of change utilizing external help, and will try to undermine it. That’s my experience.”
We agreed on the proposal particulars right there.
Frequently Asked Question
Q: What’s the best way to get around or through non-buyers?
A: Propose something in their mutual best interest, and also invoke an ethical need to talk to the buyer. Example: "Ethically, I need to hear personally from the person making and evaluating the investment what the expectations are, and to ascertain whether I'm the right person for this project. Can you introduce me and we proceed as a team to go forward, combining your internal knowledge of the culture and my external resources of best practices and methodology?"
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© Alan Weiss 2011. All rights reserved.
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