Influencer or Decision-maker: Who Holds the Power?

Every event client is different, just as their support team will vary as well. Some couples rely heavily on their parents, whereas others may look to their wedding team for advice. Corporate clients, on the other hand, often have to answer to higher executives who make the final decisions. The hierarchy varies for every event, so you need to be able to read the dynamics to determine who you need to be engaging most in the process.

Is the decision-maker really the most important figure?

You'll hear people encourage you to get to the decision-maker because they have the ultimate power and the final say. Believe it or not, this is the wrong approach because the decision-maker isn't choosing on their own. You actually need to impress the influencer—the one that they are looking to for insight and thoughts about their final decision. They have a lot more control over the situation than you think and, if you fail to impress them, your chances of success are lowered.

There is much importance in knowing who the decision-maker will be with each buyer; it's not necessarily made clear from the moment you make contact with the company or social client. However, the reality is to figure out who the influencer is.

What is an influencer?

Traditionally speaking, you will find the influencer tends to be a person that has the client's ear, often working with the buyer. Their advice is highly valued. They may have a list of responsibilities, including researching options before briefing the client on their opinion. They pay close attention to detail and they don't miss a thing.

While they seem all-powerful, they have no control over the budget or authority when it comes to making the final decision. However, the influencer remains very essential, as you will discover shortly.

The influencer could be the best friend, mother, or mother-in-law of the decision maker, as well as potentially being a co-worker. They aren't paying the bill, but they have a lot of influence over the buyer, which is why you should never assume you know who the influencer is.

Who is the influencer?

Fortunately, it doesn’t take too much effort to discover who truly has an influence on the final outcome. After making your appointment with the client, just follow this little conversation:

Salesperson: "Great, we'll meet on Tuesday. Is there anyone assisting you in making your decision?" 
Client: "Yes, my best friend, Jenna."
Salesperson: "Can Jenna meet on Tuesday as well?"
Client: “No, she's out of town."
Salesperson: "Let's meet when she returns."

Make sure that the influencer is at your meeting. You don't want to risk the influencer potentially showing up at your competitor's meeting and not yours. Next time you are faced with a meeting with the influencer, remember to impress them rather than shrugging them off—they carry more weight than it appears.

Really, there is a lesson to be learned here. It's not always about who you are; it's the kind of influence you have. The influencer may be a secondary position, but it carries high-ranking responsibilities and some serious power that often goes unnoticed and underestimated. A lot of the time, the little guy holds the keys to the next room, and this is a solid example of just that.

Meryl Snow

Owner, Feastivities Events, Philadelphia, PA and Senior Consultant, Certified Catering Consultants

With nearly 30 years in the special event and catering industry, Meryl Snow is the co-founder of Feastivities Events and the creator of The Triangle Method.  As a Senior Consultant for Certified Catering Consultants, Meryl travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design and branding to help businesses get on their own path to success.She is the author of Booked It! and Cha-CHING!

Meryl Snow

Catersource Advisory Council Member

Founder of www.TriangleMethodTraining.com...