There is a question where I come from that goes ‘Who wears the trousers in this household?’. It’s really a reference to who makes the decision in the household. It is based on the assumption that the person who makes the decisions must be the man of the house. An outdated notion – even then – but it a great metaphor to get us thinking about decision makers when we are selling.

In Sales 101 we are taught that we should seek the decision maker (ie the person who wears the trousers). When it comes to selling into larger organisations this is not as easy as it seems. Finding out who holds the budget is so first grade. Anyone who has sold at a serious level will tell you how useful that advice is!

The reality is that it can get quite complex. There can be many different people who can affect how the sale proceeds. For example, in many organisations there may be a need to get the signoff from the finance director on all larger purchases. Someone may have a specific budget and yet the finance director might still cause that sale to fall at the last hurdle.

So how do we discover who are the key players in the decision making process and who, ultimately, wears the trousers?

One way is to ask but you could end up with a bizarre situation where 3 different players all claim they make the decision. Another way is to seek out people with inside knowledge who are not directly involved in the decision making process and would like you to succeed. Maybe they want your solution, maybe they are a friend of a friend, or maybe they are a PA or receptionist that you have befriended. The point is that finding out how the land lies is important and sometimes it may be more reliable if coming from someone not directly involved in the decision.

Why not turn selling into a fun game? A game of ‘Who wears the trousers’!