News & Research Archive

Communicate with the Right People in the Right Way

Feb 26, 2007

One of the toughest lessons for any salesperson to learn is how to find the right decision maker and how to speak to that person. As salespeople, we may be convinced that we are talking to the people who can make the decision to close a transaction only to find out that they are not. This can result in losing the deal altogether.


By dealing with the wrong the decision maker, you leave open the possibility that the real decision maker is working with or interviewing someone else. In addition, the real decision maker may already have a relationship with a salesperson that he or she wants to maintain, and therefore will not hire you regardless of your efforts.


If you are lucky and the real decision maker accepts your services through the recommendation of a non-decision maker, you may not be able to develop the necessary rapport to provide credibility to you recommendations. You risk losing the transaction because of the failure to communicate in the right way with the right person.


How do you find the right decision makers and how do you address them? The easy answer to the first part of that query is to ask questions up front. We are often so excited to have an audience with someone who is willing to listen to our sales pitch that we immediately assume they are the decision makers and we proceed with the pitch. Instead, ask the person who is listening simple leading questions:

  • “What is the process on your end to make a final decision happen?”
  • “Who ultimately will make the final decision to move forward?”
  • “What other parties are involved before we can move forward?”


Then ask if it is possible to involve all the players involved in this early stage of the negotiation process.


Before you meet the real decision makers, find out as much as you can about them. Visit the company web site: discover their background—schools attended, firms worked for, age, general status in the company. Keep in mind the decision makers’ status when you develop a strategy to approach them. Read the company mission statement; the real decision makers were likely involved in its creation, and the mission statement will give good clues as to what makes the decision makers tick. Ask non-decision makers about the decision makers—what is important to them.


Figure out how you plan to speak with the decision makers. There are a seven different personality profiles; find out what kinds of personalities the real decision makers have and then address them accordingly. For instance, if someone has an analytical personality, he or she will be interested in facts. An impulsive personality will favor bullet points. Study basic personality profiles and apply that knowledge every time you meet anybody in the sales process. A basic understanding of who you’re pitching to will help create rapport, which is key to eventual success.


Written by: Hans Hansson


Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 22 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,

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