Decision Gates

3 min readNov 1, 2023
Sometimes it takes more than one meeting to reach an agreement!

In this story: Navigating a successful sale through multiple meetings with different stakeholders.

Written by Maria Edelson, Founder & CEO of Edelson

A selling objective is a simple and specific statement that defines what you want to accomplish with the customer in this meeting, so that you close or move the customer forward to the next step in the buying process.

Here are some examples of selling objectives:

  • “Get agreement to purchase the 6 new items today.”
  • “Get introduced to the CTO to give a demo to the engineering team.”
  • “Have the customer sign a $10K order for Q1.”
  • “Get connected with the Operations Manager to map out the timeline for the rollout.”

Most Individual Contributors don’t have a selling objective for their calls. If you ask them to tell you their objective for any given meeting, you’ll hear something like “Get the customer to understand our latest marketing initiative” or “Do a business review” or “Introduce our product line” or “Announce our new entry into a new market.”

If you press them, they’ll tell you their final, overall objective — for example, “Execute a global rollout of our new initiative” or “Agree on a 3-year annual business plan” or “Agree to add 3 new regions onto our platform over the next 12 months.”

But those objectives are too big for the scope of one meeting. They could involve many decision-makers (and many decisions). It will take more than one meeting to reach an agreement!

Each meeting needs to be focused on a specific selling objective which is directly related to the final objective.

Decision Gates

The salesperson’s job is to navigate through each gate in the customer’s decision-making process. Every time you meet with a customer, you’re trying to open up the next gate. You’re trying to move on to the next selling objective.

Complex sales involve multiple decision gates.

Most salespeople haven’t even thought of each of the gates they need to get through, and they certainly haven’t thought of a selling objective that opens the gate.

The result is that it’s difficult to finish sales — and sometimes even to finish each step in the sales process. This is how deals get ‘stuck.’

That’s why it is so important to know your Overall Objective and plan all your ‘gates.’ Who are your stakeholders? What agreements do you need along the way? What support do you need for the customer to say “Yes”?

Each is a gate that requires you to have a selling objective.

Do your salespeople always have a selling objective — for every interaction with the customer? If you ask them, “What are we doing with the customer today?” What do they say? The right answer is closing a sale or moving the customer forward in the buying process.

Next, we’ll talk about my favorite topic: money. The best way to achieve your selling objective is to sell value. And the best way to sell value is to monetize what it’s worth to the customer.

Feedback is a gift. Let us know what you think about this story in the comments below.

This is part 3 of Sales Bites, a 12-part series of stories from 35 years of sales experience with P&G and from training 13,000 sales executives globally. Follow or Subscribe below so you don’t miss the next story.

Next Story: “Show Me the Money!”




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