Monday, August 18, 2014

Understanding the DM Loop

If your initial contact does not have a title that indicates a decision maker (DM), you must quickly get thorugh them and to the DM. Titles that typically indicate influencers or DMs (these are guides, not absolutes:
* Influencers: Managers, some Directors
* DMs: Some Directors (especially of a division), VPs, Owner, President, CEO

These can vary with company size and management structure. For example, a Director in a very large company may not be the DM, but in a smaller company they may be part of the executive management team.

The role of each person in the DM loop is not always tied to a title. If it is not an obvious DM title, you need to test them. Regardless of title, use skepticism to ensure you identify their true role in the process:

1. Ask about the DM process. Get into the details, and if they are not the DM they will not be able to answer effectively. Surface answers usually indicate they are not a DM; once this is recognized, you should consider ending the conversation and going upline ASAP. The longer you talk with a non-DM, the more rapport you build and the harder it becomes to end the conversation.

2. Do they make recommendations to the DM? Sometimes it's a rubber-stamp situation where the DM will sign whatever the contact recommends. Often you need to talk with the ultimate DM because your contact is only an influencer. Many people will speak to their ego and say they're the DM when they have only a small amount of input.

3. Exhaust your questions on the DM loop. Get the information you need, but don't go to the point of offending the contact.

4. Should you circumvent the contact and go upline? Some contacts want you to go upline to make their job easier. Some don't. This is a judgment call based on their personality and the rapport you have built.

If you're going by titles, it's much better to aim high and get referred back down than to start low and have to claw your way up. You may get talking to the DM right away, but worst case you get talking to an influencer and have not burned any bridges. You can usually validate influencers by asking:
* Would you present this and support this to the DM?
* Why would the DM like or dislike our product/services?
* How often does the DM follow your recommendations?
* What was the last thing you recommended and was it successful?

The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of four leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, VertMarkets, and Howland Peterson Consulting.