In most significant innovations, one person cannot say yes by themselves. Not only do many staff groups and functions have a veto, but the big decision makers rely on advisors who can kill a deal even they have no authority of their own. Some of the people who need to be onboard include:

The Economic Buyer

  • Who pays the bill and/or gives final approval

The User Influencer

  • Who will supervise or use what you are selling
  • Who will judge the impact on their area
  • Who will let the economic buyer know whether they approve

The Technical Influencer who might be in:

  • Technology
  • Legal
  • Purchasing
  • HR, etc.
  • Those kind of people often have veto power

The Coach or Sponsor

  • Who guides you in finding and converting other influencers
  • Trusts you
  • Is credible
  • Wants your solution

*Adapted from The New Strategic Selling by Heiman and Sancheziut

The technology advisor to the economic buyer often has particularly interesting criterion. It is in their interest to be seen as ahead of the curve in understanding the new things coming down the pike. Therefore you serve their interests by working with them early on before many others have heard about your solution.

Paradoxically this means, for example, that they will appreciate seeing any new computer applications while they are still full of bugs, because that means they are seeing it before it becomes generally known. You are showing them respect by sharing with them before you would let others see your prototype. Doing so also means they have a chance to give you advice that will make the idea better.

Next Week

Next Monday’s post: We begin a series of influence techniques identified by Robert Cialdini. The first is “Public Declaration.”

Posts in this Series:

How to Sell Your Ideas

Express Gratitude

Avoid Triggering the Organizational Immune System

It’s Only a Test

Framing Ideas so they Get Support

Restarting the Clock

Don’t Run it up the Flagpole to See Who Salutes

The Risk of Not Doing It

Handling Objections


Gifford Pinchot III is an American entrepreneur, author, inventor, and President of Pinchot & Company. Gifford is credited with inventing the concept of and word “intrapreneur” in a paper that he and his wife, Elizabeth Pinchot, wrote in 1978 titled Intra-Corporate Entrepreneurship. His first book, Intrapreneuring: Why You Don’t Have to Leave the Corporation to Become an Entrepreneur (1985) presented an expansion of the intrapreneurship concept.