Sometime it’s tough to know who actually makes the final decision. Well, the person responsible for profit and loss (P/L leader) is the ultimate decision-maker for anything of consequence in his or her domain. This person can be a CEO or a General Manager or a Plant Manager, or a Product-line Manager, or another title. But profit and loss are the keywords. Ask, “Who ultimately takes the hit if things go south?” These P/L leaders are very easy to identify. Just ask anyone or check the internet.

Other C-Suiters, CFOs, COOs, etc. have approval limits on approved budgets and spending limits so sometimes they can be the ultimate. So it can be confusing or a mystery. Additionally top executives are shielded by many subordinates who want to keep you away for their own reasons, and usually play dress-up and declare themselves the final decision-maker. So be very skeptical and don’t suck into their reasons why there is no need for you to seek higher echelons.

Therefore if you keep reading, I will give some good indicators and ways to verify who it really is.

The Ultimate Decision Goes to the C-Suite or P/L Leader’s Office

• Significant impact on the company; health insurance, large expenditure, change in product or operation

• Capital appropriations are approved by the P/L leader and then the CEO of the larger corporation.

• Non-budgeted expenditures that can’t be squeezed into someone’s approved budget are always approved by the P/L leader or higher.

• Large Expenses: My rule; anything over $10,000 gets kissed-off by the P/L leader. Smaller expenses against approved capital projects or against approved operational or product budgets can be made at subordinate or C-levels.

• Product or operational changes: These can have big impacts to company - P/L leader

• Impact on employees: Keeping them happy is critical to company success - P/L leader

• Multiple departments impacted – Someone has to corral the cats - P/L leader

• Big dollar renewable contracts; maintenance services, healthcare, product components, shippers, etc. - P/L leader. Keep in mind large multi-divisional companies with my P/L centers can have corporate contracts and who approves those negotiation can be confusing. But the final contract approvals are blessed in the C-Suite.

Verifying Your Insight or Hunches

1. Use your Golden Network – Those workers in your company who interface with your customer – technicians, engineers, servicer, and customer service. These people have credibility and access to contacts who know.

2. Who made the final decision on past purchases: your own, your competitors’. Reach out to other vendors of complementary or similar impact type sales and ask.

3. Ask your contacts, “Other than yourself, who else will be involved?” or “Who will make the final decision?” or “Who suggested a committee?” or “Who selected the committee?” or “Who will decides if the committee or others have differences of opinion?” or …. Something similar.

4. Have multiple ports of entry – ask all your contacts the same questions. You should be talking with all the influential subordinates and bosses. Short circuits cause losses.

5. Ask yourself and others – “Will the person who says, or other indicate, is the final approver, talk to someone/s higher-up before making the decision? Ya’ know – just to bounce it off?” Well, that bounce off-er is the final final. And that feedback can be very subtle, i.e. “Well, they wouldn’t be my first choice, but it’s your call.” That little jab will kill your deal.

Hopefully you won’t have to exhaust this list to determine who it is. But, it should give you good guidance to uncover accurately who will make the ultimate decision.

And now I invite you to learn more.

Author's Bio: 

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Sam Manfer is the leading expert on selling to CEOs and powerful people. Sam is a sales strategist, entertaining key note speaker and author of TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER$, The Complete Guide to C-Level Selling – getting to and influencing top level decision-makers. Sam makes it easy for any business owner, manager or sales professional to generate quality leads, and beat the competition. Grab your FREE E-Books, Articles and other Advanced Sales Training Tips at