Ensure that the buyer acts alone

Weiss Advice Issue: 177, June, 2018

One of the worst of the swamps you can find yourself sinking in appears when the buyer says, “I’d like you to run this by some of my people.” This is never a good idea. Lower level people never welcome outsiders, change, innovation, new ideas, the boss’s new project, and threats to their feathered nests.

You need to co-opt this early, not after you’ve dutifully begun to do it! Here is an example of the language you can use:

  • This is a strategic decision, not a tactical one, so the decision needs to be yours alone.
  • This requires a leadership direction, not consensus.
  • You people will be threatened by this initiate and will oppose the idea not on its merits but because of the threat.
  • Your people will make suggestions commensurate with their own best interests and not those of the entire organization.
  • You must decide if we do this and what we do, then after that your people are welcome to participate in how to do it.
  • This is one of those priorities where you need compliance more than commitment.
  • How often does your boss ask you to make strategic decisions?

I’ve seldom, ever, experienced a buyer delegating decisions on our services to others where the proposal was simply approved. Usually, it’s rejected, weighted down with private interest additions, or simply indefinitely delayed. The longer you wait, the more bad things happen in this profession.


Learn the language that convinces the buyer to make an independent, sole, rapid decision. Once you allow yourself to be placed in the herd you’re likely to be trampled.