Getting to the real decision maker

A designer recently shared a tale about how important it is to make sure the real decision maker is involved in a project from the beginning. Here’s what happened to Robert:

Robert recently met with the President of a company about a large project.

Robert noticed that the President seemed to be lacking passion and involvement, but since the company staff was deferential to him, and the title “President” was printed plainly on his business card, Robert decided his authority seemed solid.

After Robert met with the President, he followed up with members of the marketing and operations teams to get more information about the project. A few times, someone suggested that Robert meet the Owner.  Unfortunately, the Owner always ended up being “too busy.”

Robert began to get the impression that the Owner, not the President, was the real decision maker, and considered “pushing” the President to introduce him to the Owner. But he was concerned about challenging the President’s authority – or seeming like he was trying to go over the President’s head.

Ultimately, Robert wrote the proposal, and the President accepted it.  Robert put his team to work. 

When Robert presented the creative, the President forwarded it to the Owner, who said, “It wasn’t what we were expecting.”

In the end, Robert lost the account.

Robert shared this story as a lesson about the importance of finding, and meeting with, the real decision maker.

This topic also came up in a recent interview I did with Petrula Vrontikis. Here's how she finds the real decision maker.

Has this happened to you? What can you do to avoid this scenario? How can you “push” the President to meet the Owner without seeming “pushy”?