Find Key Decision Makers: Expert Guide for Advisors (2023)
In today’s post, we will teach you exactly how to identify your decision-makers, save time, and close deals faster.
Here’s the thing:
Whether it's a choice of where to go for dinner, which color to paint your living room, or a major company decision such as what product to launch or who to hire, there are always people involved who can influence the outcome.
Identifying these key decision-makers is crucial to be successful in any venture. More so for an advisor, who is often tasked with selling services, ideas, and solutions to clients.
At the end of this post, I’ll make it easier for you to:
- Define who the key decision makers are.
- Identify key decision makers.
- Understand why this matters so much for advisors.
- And use this knowledge to build better relationships with them.
All right, so if these lessons can help you increase your conversion rate in terms of how you close more deals, it’s a big win for your pocket book.
Let’s get started!
I know you might be thinking:
“Who the heck is this guy?”
“He doesn't even know me! How can he possibly help me?”
Well, I can help you because I’ve done this for over 22 years. And by “this” I mean closing deals with executives and key decision-makers.
Now, permit me to introduce myself:
My name is Eszylfie Taylor. An active million-dollar Round Table Top of Table Producer. Before starting my brokerage in 2013, I finished my career at New York Life as one of the top agents in the U.S. (2012).
I run a sales training program for financial advisors known simply as The Taylor Method. It’s a sales system that helps advisors like yourself build thriving insurance and financial services practices.
And we get results like these:
“6x increase in overall production in less than 6 months… made Top of the Table for the first time in my 9 year career!”
- Andrew Mortenson
“13x improvement in my life insurance production in less than 2 months.”
- Johnathan Burgess
All this is to say:
There's no way around it — as an advisor you have to sell.
And quite frankly, if you sign up for The Taylor Method it is going to change your life. If you’re ready to sell more, I'll show you the proven strategy that's guaranteed to get you there. This is not about cold calling or direct mail campaigns that don’t work anymore. This is about identifying the right people, reaching out to them, and connecting with them in a way that gets results!
It's your decision to make - I'm just here to help you decide what's best for you.
Okay, back to buying decisions in the hands of others. Let's define who “key decision makers” are:
Who Are Key Decision Makers?
It is commonly accepted that, in the complex world of selling financial services or products, the person with the power to "pull the trigger" and make a buying decision is one person: the trusted decision maker.
Key decision-makers are the people who make the final call on whether or not to buy your product or service. They are also the ones who can influence the buying decision of others.
Decision-makers come in all shapes and sizes.
- Individuals – spouses, children, parents, friends, etc.
- Small business owners – owners of sole proprietorships who are the only employees.
- Large businesses – CEOs of companies with multiple employees.
- Organizations – nonprofits, corporations with boards of directors or shareholders.
The list goes on.
Identifying Key Decision Makers - Why Should Advisors Care?
It's all about knowing where to put your efforts.
One of the most common mistakes made by salespeople is assuming that everyone has the power to make a buying decision. As a result, they spend their time trying to get in front of anyone and everyone on the team to make their case.
Unfortunately, this wastes valuable time and resources because only one person on the team has the authority to say yes or no. When you know whom you should be targeting with your marketing efforts and messaging, it makes your job much easier.
You get a referral to the man of the house and you straightaway book an appointment with them and deliver your stunning value proposition only to discover they don’t make buying decisions alone and would have to relay your proposition to their partner.
Two problems can arise:
- They’ll make a mess of presenting your value proposition to their partner. You don’t want to put your business in the hands of someone else, do you? I wouldn’t. Neither should you.
- Secondly, even if they perchance did a great job of sharing your pitch with their spouse, chances are incredibly high, you’ll still have to make your presentation all over again when sitting with both of them. If you ask me, that’s a waste of time and effort that’ll be better put to good use in other aspects of your business.
To avoid this common mistake, I’ll reveal ways advisors can identify key decision makers up next.
How Advisors Can Identify Key Decision Makers
It Begins With The Right Mindset
You're going to need a few fundamental mindsets before you embark on your quest to unmask key decision-makers.
If you go on to use the methods you'll discover shortly without keeping the following in mind, you'll hamper your chances of success:
The first step to success is knowing what you want. I know what I want - I want to become financially independent and break free from the constraint of the rat race. I don't want to be stuck in a job that makes me miserable, with no hope of escaping until I'm too old or sick to enjoy life. That means not having to worry about where my next paycheck is coming from.
It is my belief that I speak for the majority of advisors out there including you.
Is that correct? Yes?? Perfect!
Here’s what you should know:
You can only earn as much as your clients make. Let that sink in for a moment.
Let me explain:
If you work with a group of clients who live paycheck to paycheck, you won’t make as much money as if you worked with a group of clients who have a $50 million net worth. The higher someone’s net worth, the more problems they generally have to solve - life insurance, estate planning, business planning, tax planning, etc..
Then, learn to prospect up. This is one surefire way that can eventually put you in the same room with wealthy (high-net-worth) individuals and/or key decision makers that can influence them.
Don't make assumptions about who has the power.
Let’s break this point down…
Judgments based on appearance:
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is assuming that because someone looks like they have the authority means they have more power to make the call.
This isn't always true — sometimes smart, savvy employees can be just as effective at influencing decisions in certain cases just like someone with greater rank or seniority in their company's hierarchy. It happens with families and romantic relationships too.
Don’t be too quick to judge - keep your options open until they tick multiple boxes outlined below…
As a financial advisor, you're in it for the money is a myth. It can be easy to get caught up in thinking about all those dollars and cents but at the end of the day, this is about helping people.
You need to focus on the needs of your clients and help them achieve their financial goals. If you can understand what they want and how you can help them achieve it, then it will be easier to build trust and rapport with them. As a result, you'll have a better chance of building long-term relationships with your clients.
Be sure to offer something of value. It's a simple concept that can have a profound impact on your business.
The idea is this: If you give others value, they'll be more likely to do business with you. And if you give them value first, they'll be more inclined to help your cause.
In other words, offer something that makes their lives or business easier or better in some way. It could be an article, video, or podcast episode that helps them do their job better. Or it could be a product or service that solves a problem they're having right now. Even an introduction to the right person.
Have this at the back of your mind when booking appointments, networking, or even hanging out with family and friends.
Anytime you get a new client, you just lost your best prospect so you must replace them.
Here’s how I avoid the problem of not enough qualified prospects:
When I sit with a client, I let them know from the start that I earn money in one of two ways: commissions and fees on the products and services I sell and through referrals.
I’m setting the table from the jump, and my referral language gets the prospect to agree to giving me a referral before we’ve even begun our fact finding process.
Sadly, one of the biggest mistakes that even I was guilty of is that most advisors only ask for referrals after they've closed the deal and allowed some time to pass. Your chances of successfully receiving referrals goes down dramatically if you wait that long.
Don't be afraid to make mistakes - it's all part of the learning process.
With that out of the way, onward and forward unto the good stuff:
5 Ways to Spot A Key Decision Maker As An Advisor
Do Your Homework
If you’re going to call on a prospect, you need to know as much about them as possible, including their title and how they fit into the organization. You can use LinkedIn, and other sources of information to get an idea of who your prospect is and where they fit in the organization.
Unfortunately, a lot of time you’d be dealing with individuals you know next to nothing about, how do you research?
This is where understanding industry trends and how people behave within your niche becomes very important.
You might be shocked to learn that women are the chief decision makers for insurance purchases according to the Swiss Re Institute.
The point is that women have a lot of influence with their family. They may not be making the final decision, but they're likely influencing it.
Perhaps the most direct way to find out who makes decisions is by asking.
Let me share my experience:
Generally, if I get a referral, let’s say I get a referral to the husband, rather than straight away scheduling an appointment with them and going to see them,
“Oh, you’re married?” and they respond: “Yeah, I’m married.”
And I’ll just ask them right then:
“In your household, do you make the purchase decisions alone, or typically do you and your wife make the decisions jointly?”
If they say:
“Hmm, in my household we pretty much make the decisions jointly,” then I’m not going to see them alone.
It’s that simple. No need to overcomplicate things.
Listen To What They Say
Another way of spotting a key decision-maker as an advisor is by listening carefully when they speak. They are likely to mention how they influence buying decisions in the past and what their role entails.
For instance: If a person is responsible for managing other people's time, budget, and resources, then it's likely that they have significant influence over others within the organization. The same applies to most homes.
Other clues to pay attention to:
- They will use first-person pronouns like "I" or "me" and not “we”. If you hear someone say something like "I paid $10k last year for…." then they're probably calling the shots. If they don't refer to themselves, it's usually because they don't feel confident enough to do so.
- The key decision maker will usually lead the conversation or ask questions if something is unclear.
- They'll talk about their experience with similar products or services.
- They may also talk about what they hope to achieve if they buy from you.
- They'll mention how much money they've spent on these products or services in the past, especially if they were not satisfied with them.
All of the above are not set in stone, however, they should pique your interest if you want to identify the key decision-maker when dealing with prospects or clients.
Use The Power Of Your Network
One way we find out about our clients is through other professionals in our circle who have worked with them before. You can get a great deal of intel by asking around and making your network work for you. These conversations are usually very informal and can provide you with a wealth of information about how the client operates and what kind of personality they have.
Just be careful not to alienate anyone by overstepping your bounds or asking too many questions that are none of your business.
Use A System That Helps You Find, Identify, And Influence Decision Makers To Your Advantage
There's no one best way to do this. But there are systems out there like the Taylor Method that make it easier for you to find people who matter and get their attention — so you can influence them in ways that drive better results for you and your clients.
Be careful not to make this mistake:
I see a whole bunch of advisors honing in on the close. They just want to identify the key decision maker, influence them and get a sale. Doesn’t sound bad, right? Well, this is the wrong way to view selling advisory services or products.
The same applies to trying to identify key decision-makers.
If you focus only on that part of the process, you're going to end up with a bad result. You might fail at getting in front of the right kind of prospects, struggle to understand how to better serve them, fail at anticipating objections let alone squashing them and you’ll let opportunities for a sale slip right under your nose even if you did ID the key decision maker. So what’s the point?
Don’t get me wrong, "Identifying" is great, but that's just one of the steps if you want to close better deals in high volumes. A sales system can help you!
I was able to close a six-figure deal on a fateful Saturday morning right there at the park while hanging out with my daughters.
I leveraged a system that helped me find, identify and influence decision-makers to my advantage. It allowed me to focus on what was important so I could close quickly and easily.
And that brings us to the next point:
How To Influence Decision Makers To Get A Sale
Understand Your Buyer’s Journey Inside Out
You have to know what your buyer's journey looks like from start to finish. You need to know where they are in the buying process and how far along they are as well as what their challenges are (and how you can help them overcome them).
Know The Needs And Priorities Of The Decision-Maker
The person who has the power to buy from you may be influenced by any number of factors. And it's up to you to figure out what those are and effectively communicate them so that your product or service meets those needs.
Ask open-ended questions like “Help me understand” or “Say more about” and be sure to listen carefully for opportunities to ask more specific questions such as, “Why is this important to you?”
Make Sure You Are Speaking Their Language
You need to be able to speak their language and not just your jargon. As an advisor, your goal is to make things easier for the decision-maker and help them understand what you want them to do.
If they don't understand what you're telling them, then there's no way they'll be able to agree with it! So make sure that whatever tools or ideas you present are written in clear English so that anyone can understand what it means and why it matters to them personally.
You can do this by using metaphors and analogies that they'll understand. For example, if they're worried about running out of money in retirement, tell them how an annuity is like having a savings account with guaranteed interest rates that never go down — even if the stock market crashes.
Handle Objections Cleverly
It's a given - objections will come up in the course of a sale. The trick is to handle them cleverly and with finesse. If you're not prepared for objections, you run the risk of sounding unprepared or even defensive.
Here’s what to do:
Don't interrupt or try to talk over them when they're giving you an objection. Instead of trying to jump in with another point, take some time and listen carefully so that you can respond appropriately later on.
When they're done talking, paraphrase what they said back to them so that you can be sure you understand them correctly before responding. This shows that you're listening actively and allows them to correct any misunderstandings.
Finally, there are simple ways to respond to objections. See examples below:
- If they say "I'm not sure," ask questions like "What aren't you sure about?" or "What about this product or solution makes you unsure?" Find out what doubts or fears are holding them back and then address those issues head-on with solid reasons why those fears are unfounded.
- If they say "It's too expensive," expose their vulnerability to risks, and tell them how much money they'll save as compared to the risks of not having it.
- You’ll hear “We’re good. We’ve got a plan in place already” Assure them you won’t undo the good work that’s been done. Rather you’ll affirm the good work, but provide them with information that’ll allow them to make better decisions about the deficiencies.
Use Facts, Not Opinions
Yes, your offer is great, but how, where, to whom, and why should they buy it? You need to show them the facts. The more empirical information you can provide about your product or service and its benefits, the more likely they will be to buy from you.
The key here is to not just say something like "our product is great" or "we have a great team." If you do this, it makes it hard for them to trust your claim. Instead, show them proof and stats that back up what you're selling.
Don’t Forget To Take Other People Into Consideration
You might be tempted to think that the decision-maker is the only person who matters. However, that’s not always true. Other people may be involved in the decision-making process, and you need to consider them.
If there are multiple people involved in making the sale, make sure you address their concerns as well as those of your main person that has the power to sanction a buying decision.
I say this because you want to avoid a scenario where the secondary person could have some influence on the main decision-maker, and they didn’t feel included, which could kill the sale opportunity.
Make It Easy For Them To Buy - Narrow Their Options To A Single Solution (Two At Most)
This is one of the most important principles in selling anything: If you want people to buy from you, the expert,, give them your best recommendation as opposed to multiple options. Imagine if a doctor came to you with your test results and gave you five possible treatment paths and left it up to you to decide?? You’d want another doctor!
The same goes for financial advisors. Be the expert in the room.
Use Their Unique Circumstances To Your Advantage
(Advisors) need to strive to understand the unique dynamics of each key decision-maker, in as many relevant situations as possible. For instance, if a decision maker is part of a family unit with kids, this person may let their guard down more quickly around others who are also parents. Setting up a playdate could make all the difference in getting that deal across the finish line.
Closing: Communicate A Compelling Selling Proposition
Sounds cliche right? However it is crucial - so don’t treat it as an afterthought. Your product or service has a unique selling proposition (USP), which describes why your product or service is better than the competition's.
A good way to think about it is through the lens of value creation: What value does your product or service create for the customer? What problem does it solve? How does it help them reach their goals? What specific results will they achieve?
You must be able to answer these questions to craft a compelling selling proposition that will convince decision-makers that they need what you have to offer.
Final Words: Identifying Key Decision Makers As An Advisor
I want to make a difference in advisors’ lives by providing them with the opportunity to better identify and understand the decision-makers that they interact with regularly. The world is changing, and the best financial advisors are not sitting on their hands - they are learning how to adapt to this ever-evolving landscape. If you want to quickly fast track your rise to the top - becoming a top producer within the shortest possible time you thought possible, check out our workshops.