February 5, 2017

Reader question: “How do you get access to the economic buyer?”

Reader Eric T Grubaugh wrote in with the following question about getting past a gatekeeper to reach the true buyer for his training classes (shared with permission unedited):

_Hey Jonathan,_ _Something to consider for your content inspiration list:_ _TL;DR: How do you figure out who the Economic Buyer is, and then what are some tactics for gaining access to that person?_ _I’ve been following you and your value-based fees advice for years, and I’m reading through “Value-Based Fees” by Alan Weiss on your recommendation. Both of you clearly outline the Why Conversation, but the underlying assumption there is that you’re already talking to the Economic Buyer. I haven’t seen much on how I figure out who the economic buyer is and subsequently gain access to them, respectfully and professionally._ _In my case, I’m finding that the Economic Buyers are not the ones contacting me for training requests. I’m usually getting team leads or low-level managers coming to me, but then there’s a Director or VP somewhere actually writing the check. Other than my utter lack of natural sales instincts, I feel this has been a significant impediment for me._ _Eric T Grubaugh_

Great question, Eric. Thanks!

It’s hard to answer this one in the abstract because there are many subtleties. The considerations involved include:

Since there are so many factors, let’s consider some of Eric’s factors specifically:

There are two approaches Eric can take:

1. Sell training as a productized service — Selling training at a published price obviates the need to bypass the gatekeeper. If you publish your prices, you don’t need to engage the true buyer in a Why Conversation. This option potentially leaves money on the table BUT significantly decreases your sales labor.

2. Have a Why Conversation with the gatekeeper — A gatekeeper won’t be able to answer your questions in a Why Conversation. If you insist on getting these answers prior to working with them – which you should because it’s in everyone’s best interest – the gatekeeper will be forced to send you to the true buyer in order to move the relationship forward. This option will potentially leave less money on the table BUT requires more labor from you in the sales process.