Decision MakerRegardless of any particular function you currently serve or aspire to reach, a pivotal contact’s formal decision role tells you a great deal about his or her business stature. One area of particular interest is that person’s formal decision role. The person’s formal decision role is one of the following.

Decision Maker

Ask most people and they’ll tell you they know what or who a decision maker in the business context is—‘‘it’s the person who signs the check,’’ I’m often told. But dig a little deeper and few really understand the key challenges consistently good decision makers face and critical attributes they develop over the years. In the context of strategic relationships and pivotal contacts, decisions are critical elements in these leaders’ daily lives—from corporate strategy, talent progression, investment options, and distribution channel to research and development (R&D). So, mastering decision making is easy for them—or is it?

Do you want to nurture meaningful relationships with pivotal contacts who are true decision makers? Become astute enough to understand the biggest obstacles to high-quality decision making they face on a daily basis. What are some of the biggest challenges to decision making you face as a consumer, as a leader, or for your organization? Key concepts such as presumed associations, anchoring, and pattern matching dramatically affect the business relationships decision makers are interested in.

Approver

In my experience, these are highly valued lieutenants. They often work very closely with the decision maker and are strongly plugged in to the key fiscal year priorities, project imperatives, and highly influential people involved in the desired outcome. They are privy to the broad-based outcome the decision maker is seeking, as well as the realistic limitations or barriers to get there—think of internal bureaucracy; budget issues (often a priority issue and seldom a financial roadblock); or other lack of resources (human resources, capital, or time).

Their title and reporting structure within an organization are irrelevant. What matters is if their evaluations of possible options and recommendations are trusted and respected. The best ones I’ve ever worked with are creative and will work with you in a highly iterative process to position your value-added proposition as the best possible solution.

If they like you, invest the time and effort to get to know you, and trust you—often due to your past performance—they will recommend to the decision maker that they buy from you, not just monetarily for your products or services, but also for your ideas, perspectives, or perhaps tackling that initiative a little differently.

Convince them of your value-based relationship approach and you’ll fast-track your access to the decision maker.

To learn more, read Chapter 6 in the revised and updated Relationship Economics paperback edition with 40 percent new content, including an all-new chapter 10 on social media and business relationships (Wiley, Feb. 2011).

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