In handling a person who’s actively blocking you from seeing the economic buying influence, you should begin by understanding why another buying influence would want to do this. When we ask our clients to explain how they have been blocked from getting to economic buyers, they give answers like these:
- The technical buyer wants to handle everything personally.
- He’s favouring my competition.
- They told me that was a lower level decision.
- She says the economic buyer wants her to make the final decision.
- He just doesn’t want us to get the order.
When you examine these answers closely, you find that there’s an underlying theme. No matter what the given reason is no matter what the apparent motivation of the blocking buying influence there’s always the same root cause. When another player attempts to block your access to the economic buying influence, it is always because the blocker sees the proposal you’re offering as a personal lose.
Because leaving a buying influence with the impression that he or she has lost is so dangerous – it’s practically a certain set up for buyer’s revenge – your first step in dealing with a blocking buyer should always be to determine why this person feels so negatively, that is, why he or she is convinced that your proposal is a lose. You need to do this not only as a prerequisite for overcoming the negative perception, but also because the strategy you adopt toward this person’s account may have to change dramatically depending on the reasons you discover.
Unless you determine the nature of his lose perception you can easily say all the wrong things every time you meet him.
Once you’ve determined why a blocker feels that he or she is losing, there are three ways you can deal with the strategic impediment. You can:
- Show the blocking buyer how to win in the sale by getting you to the economic buying influence:
- Go around the blocker to get to the final authority;
- Go along with the block.
Each of three choices could be valid, depending on the situation.
Of three strategies, showing the blocker how to win is by far the best. We recommend that you always try it first, resorting to the other two strategies only if it fails. Since the blocking buyer’s lose perception is the cause of the block, you can sometimes turn the situation around by demonstrating that this perception is mistaken. In order, to become a sponsor rather than an anti-sponsor of your proposal the blocker has to see that it’s his or her self-interest for you to get to the economic buying influence.
Ideally, you want to go one step beyond this. You want to show the blocker how to win not just by letting you get to the economic buyer, but by taking you there personally. The best way of handling a blocking buying influence is to show that you have something the economic buyer needs – and that the blocker can get the credit and have something of value to bring to the economic buying influence, you’ll very likely be able to convert a lose perception into a win perception because there will be a realization that cooperation with you will enhance the blocking buyer’s own perceived value. Your goal here is to help him or her see that he or she can make an impression by being seen as the person who was smart enough to bring you on board.
The something of value that a blocker can help you give the economic buying influence is always the same thing. The single most valuable contribution you can bring to any economic buyer is knowledge. Specifically, it’s knowledge that will help this key player do what he or she is paid to do; predict the future and set appropriate agendas. If you and the blocking buyer together can increase the economic buyer’s predictive capability, everybody will win.
Going around the block:
No matter how earnestly you work to show a blocking buying influence how to win by helping you in your sale, you may still come up against someone who just won’t be moved. When you confront a user or technical buying influence whose lose perception cannot be turned around, you’ll be forced to consider the second option – going around the block.
But there’s a danger. In spite of its apparent elegance, this approach to a blocked sale is actually a high risk strategy. The risk is that, in your eagerness to reach the economic buyer, you’ll simply ignore the blocking buyer’s resistance as irrelevant or unimportant.