After reading Monday’s post, a friend reminded me that just as important as asking the right questions is asking the right people. My friend elaborated:

I would hate to tell you how many hours a salesperson has spent making a wonderful presentation and WAY down the road discovered that the person being addressed was not the decision-maker.

We’ve talked about this very issue in the training class I’m attending. As we design discussion guides and visit plans for gaining important customer insights–in this case for determining what products or services to pursue–it matters a lot who is answering those questions. We could easily draw a bead on what looks to be an important target, only to find ourselves running down a rabbit hole when we learn that the responder has nothing to do with the issue at hand. While there can be many different kinds of stakeholders–end users, installers, vendors, assemblers, consultants, resellers, etc.–we must certainly make sure that the decisions we make are based on interaction with those stakeholders–not merely observers or (dis)interested parties.

The most perfectly formulated, on-target question won’t make a darned bit of difference when posed to the person who doesn’t have the authority or knowledge to answer it.

P.S. Here’s a hint, Kid1 and Kid2: when you’re trying to figure out how to do your chores, don’t ask each other. Ask ME.

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