Do You Know Who the Economic Buyer is?

Ensure that you are getting all of the information you need from the right sources and follow all of the processes you would normally follow for a paid project.
economic buyer
economic buyer

Welcome back.  Today I wanted to share with you a recent experience and “Ah-Ha!” moment in business.  It was about knowing the economic buyer.

I’m working my way through my 4th Alan Weiss book on becoming the Ultimate Consultant.  For those of you that don’t know, Alan is a highly experienced consultant who has written about 30 books on the topic.  His books are very informative and not one to put down.

Alan refers to the “economic buyer” as the person who is the final decision maker in an organization.  Its also the person that can essentially “write the cheque”.   Anyone else would be considered a “gate keeper” or someone who doesn’t have authority and will prevent you from gaining access to the person with authority.   Who would you rather be interacting with?  I had read about this numerous times but had yet to see it in action….until recently.

I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering for an organization for a number of years now.  I’ve learned a lot from this organization and (would like to think that) I’ve taught them a lot as well.  Recently, I began work on developing a mobile iPhone app for this organization.  I could see a number of benefits and cost savings by deploying this app to the clients of this organization.   So I sat with the head of the IT department a couple of times and we worked out a plan and a design.

Three long months of hard work (note that this was still volunteer work), and I had completed a fully functional prototype.  Ready to be shown to his boss, the CEO.  The three of us met and I found out that it wasn’t what the CEO was expecting at all.  Even worse, what the CEO was expecting would require me to rewrite the entire application.

It was frustrating indeed.  Yet there are lessons to be learned from this:

1) The head of IT was not the economic buyer.  I wouldn’t say he was a gate keeper either, he just didn’t have the final say.   My lesson learned from this is that I should have found a way to meet the CEO and find out what he was looking for.

2) Because it was pro-bono work, I didn’t approach it the same way I would approach a paid project.  IE.  seek out the economic buyer and do what I would have mentioned in point 1.  There is no difference between pro-bono and real work (other than the dollar amount you are receiving as remuneration).  Ensure that you are getting all of the information you need from the right sources and follow all of the processes you would normally follow for a paid project.

3) Because I am a professor of mobile development, I teach a lot of rules that one needs to follow when creating an app that will produce a solid user experience.   The app that I was building broke a number of rules and didn’t come off as a solid user experience.  Moral of the story, don’t be afraid to voice your disagreement.  Remember, you are the expert.  Clients are paying you for your experience and expertise and it would be a disservice to them to not voice a disagreement when you have one.

For speakers out there, this can also apply to speaking as well.   While working with the meeting planner the proper thing to do, consider contacting other’s in the company you are about to speak for.  This may help gear your speech to their interests and produce a better final product.

Happy speeching!

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