My business requires me to not only teach and coach sales, but I have to make sales if I want to keep my business alive. I was reminded last week of one of the cardinal rules of closing (and the #2 reason why a sale doesn’t close)…You cannot close a “Non-decision maker”. I know this. I teach this. Yet it still happens to me from time to time.

It happens innocently enough. There’s an introduction or inquiry. There’s conversation. There’s interest. As the conversation progresses both parties see a good fit and want to move forward. Then it happens. We present a well prepared value proposition and we gain initial acceptance. Then we fall through the trap door. We find out the person we’ve been dealing with can’t ink the check. This happens for a wide variety of reasons. They may have started out gathering information. You and the buyer may get caught up in the excitement and value of the proposal. They, often times unintentionally, misrepresent their authority. I say “unintentionally” because we may have exceeded their budget, or been less than clear on the terms. That’s on us not them. Another reason the deal falls through is the buyers over estimation of their ability to sell our stuff to their boss. They got excited and bought in over a period of time. Then they try and relay the information (or sell it for us) in a single conversation with their boss.

Regardless of how we got there the deal is stalled or dead. The simplest way to avoid this pitfall is to find out as early as possible who else needs to be involved. Ask “In addition to yourself who else should be involved in the process?” or “What is the process for making a final decision?” Another method is to make it part of the early discover process. Ask the prospect why they’re looking at the product or service. Are they being directed to do so by someone else. The key is find out quickly and then get that person involved as soon as possible. Otherwise you’re gonna have to start all over and your odds of success are severally reduced.

The Number 1 reason deals don’t close? Because the seller didn’t ask for the business, but that’s for another post.