How to find a customer’s supreme decision maker for adopting new products

Hint, it’s not the customer’s buying agent.

In my clients’ specialty goods/services arena, an agent’s request for lower price is not a major issue for adoption.

For my clients: Finding a supreme decision maker results in one of two benefits. Either the client’s unique capabilities can meet a latent need. Or, the expense of qualifying for adoption is too high. For the latter, my client’s product development strategist won’t start a development project.

Supreme decision makers are hidden inside a customer’s decision network. It isn’t easy to find supreme decision makers and understand their major issues on adoption. What I must do is talk with a lot of the customers and their end users.

  • Hard to do if the customer is aware of what you are doing.

Solution: The client must pay for an unbiased outsider to conduct a blind study.

In a blind study, people you interview do not learn who is paying for the study.

Goals for my blind studies: 1. Find supreme decision makers, 2. Find their major issues and, 3. Understand how they decide.


Case Example

The Case of Finding the Supreme Decision Maker

Josh is his division’s product development strategist. He does not see the customer request as a product opportunity. Instead, he sees it as an unprofitable waste of R&D development capabilities.

The request to R&D was … “Use your capabilities in flexible waveguides to replace remaining rigid waveguides in satellites.”

R&D and the division’s management are in favor a positive response to the request. But, Josh believes the buying agent’s reasoning is fishy.

Josh hired me to help him understand why this request on rigid waveguides is off base.

Josh gained new knowledge from my interviews in the satellite manufacturing industry. He used it convince R&D and division management to not invest in the buying agent’s request.

Key Finding: Antenna designers consider the buying agent’s request, ridiculous.

Ridiculous, because antenna designers make the final decision on buying new components.

  • Flexible cannot beat rigid’s superior transmission in high capacity RF bands.
  • Rigid waveguides hold the competitive advantage of low weight combined with superior RF transmission.