In almost every buying decision, you’ll work with a cast of characters who are involved in the process. Often, one member of the cast—usually someone at or near the top of the organizational chart—has the responsibility for making the decision. Sometimes, however, a committee of decision-makers is involved.
Of course, if you sell to individuals, the organizational chart may contain only a few entries; your prospect and maybe his or her spouse, and maybe an accountant, advisor or friend.
The "who" element is composed of three aspects:
- Title of the people involved
- Responsibilities of those people
- Their stake in the decision
You might say that the cast of characters is composed of stars, co-stars, supporting actors, and bit players.
The stars include the CEO, president, owner, senior partner, or other lead decision maker (husband or wife). The focus of a star is:
- Big picture
- Bottom line
- Tangible results
The people to whom the star delegates are the co-stars. The co-stars are usually the top officers of the company, like the vice presidents, chief operating officer, and chief financial officer. The focus of the co-stars is:
- Carrying out policies
- Using a decision making authority that is handed down from the star
- Providing significant influence over decisions
- Schedule a budget
The Supporting Actors
Supporting actors include managers and supervisors. They tend to be facts, figures, and functions people. Supporting actors:
- Have little purchasing authority
- Have limited influences in the decision process
- Gather and analyze data to support the decision
The Bit Players
Bit players are the people in the organization who will use the product or service. They may include administrative staff, salespeople warehouse & shipping staff, and equipment maintenance, staff. Bit players:
- Want to know how a product/service will help them
- Have little or no authority or influence in the decision process
- Area wealth of information about product/services/vendors
You should always start the sales call at the top of the organization. If the star has delegated responsibility to someone else, he or she can refer you to that person.