The Four People You Meet in the Sales Cycle

As you navigate the sales cycle (from prospecting to closing the deal), you will encounter several types of people along the way. Knowing who they are and their role in the process is critical to your success.

Information Gathers

This person is doing just that; gathering information about your product or service. If it’s a marketing generated lead they are probably gathering information from your competition too!  Follow through here is critical and time is not your friend. Can you say “Jump Ball”? The key here is to provide the information requested and gather some of your own—timeline, sense of urgency, current situation, etc.


These folks are critical to the process. They come in many forms and from many areas inside the four walls of your prospect’s organization. They can come from Operations, Finance, and Executive Staff to name just a few. Understand who they are and how your offering affects them.  It will be important to speak their language too. Finance cares about ROI, Operations about ease of use and integration. It’s important to note these are also the people that can coach you on how best to present your product, service, and solutions to the company and its decision makers.

End Users

These are the people who will use your product or service. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are part of the buying process, but they could be. How does your product or service impact them?

Decision Makers

This is where the rubber meets the road. It can be a frustrating process to get in front of decision makers. They usually live at the top of an organization and place a high premium on their time—so don’t waste it! They rely on input from all the folks I’ve listed above, but ultimately it’s their call. They may not be the person using your product or service directly, but they’ll own the decision to buy from you and the consequences—good or bad.

At the risk of stating the obvious an individual could represent more than one, or all, of the roles mentioned above. The key is being able to address the needs and concerns of each role.

A few words of caution: influencers can appear to be decision makers, but they aren’t! The fastest way to determine if someone is genuinely a decision maker is to ask them to make a decision. Any decision. A decision about moving forward, or next steps.

A few words about “Gatekeepers”…

I’m frequently asked, “How do I get past the Gatekeeper”? My standard reply, “Stop calling them that”! The term is out of date and disrespectful. The way you address and treat the first people you encounter will determine whether you get to meet anyone else! It’s important to note the people tasked with protecting the assets (time and money) of real decision makers, aka “Gatekeepers,” usually take on the role of “Information Gatherer” and often “Influencer.” Depending on what you sell they could also be “End Users.”

Get their name and use it as soon as possible. Your goal is to demonstrate to them you are worthy of the boss’ time. They should be your first sale, and the thing you’re selling is you!