Strategy To Get Past Non-Decision Makers
There is nothing worse than getting a deal blocked by non-decision makers. These are people that do not have the authority to give the green light but aren’t elevating the deal to the people that do. It can be extremely frustrating and take what feels like light-years.
Most people will tell you to avoid non-decision makers at all costs.
For raising money, these can be associates or principals that don’t have capital deploying positions (one of the reasons A16Z only has Partners now).
For customers it could be a junior employee or someone that doesn’t have access to the purse-strings of the budget.
You won’t do anything wrong if you follow the normative thinking on this subject. However, I’ve found there are better ways to get past non-decision makers and that is to make them your biggest advocates.
Now this isn’t always easy to do but instead of avoiding the non-decision makers, when presented an opportunity to meet or speak with them, empower them with information about your company or offering. Get them excited. Make them fans and evangelists. If you can truly do this — then they will be motivated to bring it to the right people so they look good. So think of your job as one that focuses on everything to make them look good.
If it is a junior investor, get them believing your vision and the market opportunity.
If it is a potential customer, get them using your product, giving feedback, and getting value.
You can avoid non-decision makers as much as you’d like but sometimes by pulling them in you’ll make yourself a really strong ally on the other side of the table.