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Monthly tips to improve the business and practice of members of The Society for the Advancement of Consulting, LLC - Issue #47: August, 2007

buyer tries to delegate you to a lower level person

What do you do when a buyer tries to delegate you to a lower level person? Here are some responses and strategies.

  1. I'm happy to meet with whomever you suggest but only after you and I have conceptual agreement about our approach. It's best if we present to your staff a picture that you and I agree on and then ask them to color the details.
  2. I'll certainly meet with her, and then I'd like to come back to you to debrief, since I've found that perceptions aren't always shared precisely. That way, you can I can discuss the best communications strategy. Let's pick a time and date to get back together.
  3. Frankly, an initiative of this sort is going to make a lot of people uncomfortable—which is the intent—so they are not the best people to ask about whether or not to do it. This is a top-down decision.
  4. Do we really want to reveal the nature of this project so early and have people talking and potentially opposing it before we are absolutely ready to launch?
  5. Let's talk to them together. I think you should hear what they think directly, not through my filter.
  6. Why don't we invite them to a meeting? You can provide your philosophy about this, I'll talk about the implementation options, and then we can handle questions and suggestions.
  7. Why do you want me to talk to those people? If it's to acquire buy-in, let's do it after we have an agreement. If it's to gain consensus, I don't think this project is subject to consensus, because it's a corporate strategic need.
  8. What do you think their reactions will be, and why are they important at this preliminary stage?
  9. I think that involving them at this early point may send the incorrect signal that we're uncertain about the merits of the project. If we involve them down the road more, the signal will be that we want their inputs to make the project successful.
  10. I'm sorry, but my experience is that projects of this type are executive decisions, not employee endorsements.
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