“Sorry, My Boss Has to Approve This”

At least 50% of the time salespeople are either denied access to the ultimate decision maker or too timid to fight for it.  The results are predictably disastrous.

When you don’t have access to the decision maker, you cannot get a “yes” when you ask for the business.  You will have to trust a subordinate to sell your idea to his boss, something that he cannot do as well as you.  So the first rule is to fight for access to the boss.

Use “My Biggest Concern” tactic.

My Biggest Concern:  “One of my biggest concerns is that your boss will ask you questions about my proposal that you might not have answers to, and the whole thing will fall apart.  Would it make sense for me to be with you to answer the hard questions when you talk to your boss?”

Nevertheless, there will be times when you are denied access to the boss and you decide to make a presentation to someone who can’t say “yes” anyway.   That’s your choice.  So here are several tactics you might consider to improve your chances of winning the business when the prospect says…“I need to talk to my boss to get approval.”

Traditional (Incorrect) Response:  “Okay.  When should I call you to see what she says?”  (Stay away from this response as it will get you nowhere.)

Here are several other ideas to use when you simply can’t get to the decision maker, and are dependent on someone else to sell your ideas.

Reward & Refocus:  “Jan, I appreciate your telling me that, but I’m curious.  What will you recommend to your boss when you speak to her?”

The Easy Exit:  “Tom, don’t take this the wrong way, but the last time someone told me that they were really trying to say that they just weren’t interested.  Is that where you are?”

Colombo:  “Gosh, I’m kind of confused.  I thought you had the final authority to approve this purchase.  Did I miss something?”

Let’s Pretend:  “Jan, let’s assume your boss says we should go ahead.  What happens then?”

The Scale: “I understand.  But let me ask you, on a scale of one to ten, with ten being you’d buy it if it were your decision, how do you feel about our proposal?”

Mastering several of these tactics will give you more options when you run into this roadblock.

Self-Study Assignment:  Read through the above tactics for getting past this common stall.  Anticipate what kinds of responses you might get from your prospect if you used them.  Select 1-2 to try next time you get this put-off.