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Discover Whose Decision

One of the first elements to discover is who is going to take the decision. It is not always very obvious even though it is key to understand who is who in any sales transaction. In fact, there are four potential decision makers that must be taken into consideration:

  • - Decision maker: This may appear to be obvious, but can be tricky to determine.
  • - Who is paying: It’s very often a different person from the decision maker.
  • - Who will use the product: It’s very often a different person from the person who pays.
  • - Veto person: They can say no.

During the phase of welcoming, you must build trust with all visitors. This is especially the case with a group—beware of the individuals and if possible identify their role. The one who is going to make the decision is not necessarily the one who will pay.

For Mrs. and Mr. Taylor it is quite clear that Mrs. Taylor’s “yes” will get approval from her husband. Even for a property purchase in the case of the

Williams, Sophie’s role is at the center of the decision. She can say no—as she is the one who has to live in the property more often than Thomas. She can also say no if she doesn’t like the property and is quite sure that Thomas will not insist too much. Sophie most likely has better judgment, being the one who is most likely to take the lead in decorating and arranging their new home.

It is crucial therefore to be conscious of a customer’s spouse and children when they visit together. Typically, Asian customers have a deep respect for their parents, and elder visitors hold the “right to veto” and quite often don’t hesitate to use it when they consider that the products are not worth buying (Chart 5.2).

Look at Chart 5.2 and consider the example of Mrs. and Mr. Taylor visiting Paris to find a piece of wedding anniversary jewelry. Mr. Taylor is evidently the person who will pay but he’s not the sole decision maker when he is visiting the store with Mrs. Taylor. If he were alone, he would be the only decision maker, while his wife Michelle would be in the background of the decision as the recipient of the gift. Michelle is the one who is going to use the jewelry, but she also wears it for her husband and therefore would not make a decision without her husband liking the item.

Michelle has the right to veto: even if Allan likes a particular piece, she could simply say no. On the other hand, even if Allan didn’t really like her choice, he would most likely not use his right to veto the decision. His desire is to please Michelle.

Chart 5.2 The decision makers

In a quick analysis, an expert sales advisor would know:

Decision: Michelle and Allan Paying: Allan

Using: Michelle but needs Allan’s appreciation Veto: Michelle

The best option would be to focus on Michelle and work to get Allan on board.

Is Mrs. Taylor familiar with the brand? What kind of jewelry does she already have? For her, what is an exceptional piece in terms of price? All the necessary questions have to be raised, focusing only on Michelle, even if her selfconfident husband looks like he is able to take the decision alone.

The situation can be much more complicated when clients visit with friends who are there to offer their opinion. It could also be the case that grandparents and children are involved.

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