For many businesses, the primary person that is focused on in both marketing and sales efforts is the key decision maker at a company. It’s easy for us to think about the person who has the most power to say “yes” because that’s what we’re looking for in the first place. However, if we're not also keeping in mind the people who can say “no,” then we are missing opportunities and hurting our overall efforts.
The Difference Between Decision Makers and Decision Influencers
Let’s start with defining the difference between these two:
The Decision Maker
This is the person (or a committee of people) who ultimately have the power to say “yes” to what you are trying to sell them.
The Decision Influencers
These are the people who the decision maker allows, or invites, to have a say or play a role in the decision-making process. They may not be able to say “yes” or make the final call, but they can definitely deliver a “no” that could impact the outcome both positively or negatively.
When it comes to decision influencers, you can typically put them into three categories:
- User Influencers — those who could benefit from this product/plan/solution and might even be involved with implementation
- Technical Influencers — those who specialize in evaluating measurable aspects of your product/plan/solution and might even be comparing it to your competition
- Coach Influencers — those that want you to succeed and can provide useful insights and information to help support you
What Does This Have To Do With Marketing?
While it’s naturally important to identify all of these kinds of people during the sales process – and all great salespeople do – it’s equally important to think about these different personas when building your marketing strategy as well. For instance, if you have a blog and content strategy, then you should be identifying the questions, objections, and concerns that each of these types of people have at an organization you’d like to business with… not just the decision maker.
This all starts with building out thoughtful, research-based target personas. Your target personas should help you better understand (and not assume) who is involved in the decision-making process. This kind of research will also help you identify those unique questions, objections, and concerns that different roles at a company have. Then, you can use this research to build a more strategic marketing plan.