Selling to the Fab Four: Your Ticket to Ride


Article by Frank TraditiNo, I’m not talking about the Beatles. Instead of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, there’s a different Fab Four you’ll encounter in selling your services to corporations. Meet the Decision-Maker, the Champion, the Technician, and the Gatekeeper.

These four types of people, in most midsize to large organizations, will be your key contacts and communication points throughout the sales and marketing process. Get to know the Fab Four, and identify them early on in the sales cycle. They represent a cross-section of personalities, motivations, agendas, responsibilities, and authority that can aid or hinder your sale.

The Decision-Maker

This is the one holding the pen that can sign your contract. The Decision-Maker has the authority to make the final call — yes or no. He or she should be your primary target for winning the business. The Decision-Maker is generally a high ranking individual in the organization with the power to launch or sink your ship.

Behind the Music – Establish a relationship early on with this person. Chances are he or she will not be in on all the discussions about buying from you. You may only get a couple of opportunities to win the Decision-Maker over. His or her decision can, and many times will, be influenced by the other three members of the Fab Four.

The Champion

This is the person who most wants your solution to be adopted by the organization. He or she acts as your internal sales rep. Perhaps this is who introduced you to the company, or who knows your reputation the best. The Champion is motivated to help you, and will help you navigate your way through various contacts with the company. Your champion will tell you about issues you would otherwise not learn of.

Behind the Music – Treat the Champion like a precious jewel. Appreciate the value you get from this person. He or she could be the ticket to you getting the nod from this organization. A word of caution, though — don’t overstay your welcome. Be considerate about how much you leverage this person’s help.

The Technician

This person wants to know everything — the detailed specs on your products and services, your performance guarantee, how it all works, and what happens if it doesn’t work. The Technician loves spreadsheets and lists of features. He or she is concerned about the implementation and if your service or product is going to disrupt his or her department.

Behind the Music – The Technician is the person that will ask the most questions about your product or service. He or she might challenge your credibility. The key to success is that the Technician’s attitude may not always depend on the technical issues he or she asks about. It may just be that he or she is process-oriented and needs to understand everything completely before moving forward.

The Gatekeeper

This is the potential naysayer. The Gatekeeper will look for ways to kill your sale. He or she already knows that your solution won’t work. The Gatekeeper does not have the power to say yes, but does have the power to say no. He or she has very specific problems or issues that need to be satisfied before any recommendation is made.

Behind the Music – Don’t neglect this person once you discover who he or she is. Find out the Gatekeeper’s agenda, and become highly specific about how you can solve his or her key problem. Watch out for Gatekeepers in disguise. They sometimes might give you the impression at first that things are moving along. Listen for clues that would demonstrate otherwise.

Each one of the Fab Four can influence the organization’s yes or no decision. Identify these roles as quickly as you can during the sales process so you can position yourself appropriately with each person.

And most importantly, don’t underestimate the power of the Fab Four. They can make you a #1 hit or land you at the bottom of the charts.

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