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Getting Buy-In from 4 Types of Executive Decision Makers

influence Aug 29, 2023

I know how much wisdom you have, how good your ideas are, and how much you want to make an impact. But, I’ve seen far too many learning professionals, coaches, and consultants struggle to influence decision-makers to commit.

I appreciate your frustration. You see a problem and know just the action to solve it. You’ve thought the plan through. You might even have experience implementing the same solution in the past. The decision is so clear to you, but those that control the purse strings don’t see it.

If you find yourself in that boat, let me recommend this…

Give them what they WANT before you try to give them what they NEED.

Whether you’re a coach or consultant trying to sell your services or an internal HR professional trying to sell your ideas, it’s essential to understand your decision maker – their priorities, their needs, and their motivators.  It doesn’t matter how great your idea is. If it doesn’t spark an interest or fill a need for your decision-maker, you’ll have an uphill climb to getting your idea approved.

Let’s look at four types of decision makers, their priorities, needs, and motivators.  That way, you’ll know just what to do to get them to say “yes!”


Dominant Dave has one goal and that’s winning. He focuses on results, the bottom line, or whatever metrics will drive his organization’s success. A challenger by nature, Dave won’t let any obstacles stand in his way. And, if you disagree with him, then you’re the obstacle and he’s likely to go his own way.  So, it’s best to show Dave how he’ll achieve his goals on the way to achieving yours.

Priorities:  getting immediate results, driving the bottom line

Needs: fast action, no drama

Motivated by: competition, winning, authority

Get buy-in from Dominant Dave: be direct but respectful, describe how your solution will achieve his goals, earn his trust by showing that you’re competent, show you can take quick action even if the solution isn’t exactly what you had in mind.

Remember, you need to meet them where they are by giving them what they want. Once you have their trust, you can give them what they need to take them where you want to go!



Influencing Irene is very well-connected. She focuses on relationships, status, and how she and her team look to others. An energetic, creative person by nature, Irene loves ideas, especially if they’ll make her or her team shine. So, begin by asking for her ideas and opinions before you’re too far down the path with your own solution.  Know that follow-through might not be her gift. To keep her engaged and committed, continue to show her how her ideas are coming to fruition and make it fun.

Priorities:  relationships, ideas

Needs: enthusiasm, collaboration, brainstorming

Motivated by: status, recognition, camaraderie

Get buy-in from Influencing Irene: be enthusiastic and energetic, invite/include/involve her early in a process, earn her trust by showing that you’re approachable, incorporate her ideas, meet frequently with a visual roadmap to keep her on track.



Steady Sun Li is a patient and loyal decision-maker who cares about her team and customers. She values cooperative relationships and a clear path that makes her feel comfortable with a decision.  So, begin by asking how she feels about your project to make sure she has that comfort. Then, present a detailed roadmap that shows how you’ll get from Point A to Points B, C, D, and so on.  Offer to meet with her team to help her get them on board, too.

Priorities:  teamwork, supportive relationships

Needs:  consistency, predictability, harmony

Motivated by: helping others, stable environments

Get buy-in from Steady Sun Li: be patient and thorough, talk about how she and her team feel about the situation, earn her trust by showing that you care, create a step-by-step plan with frequent check in points to build comfort with your ideas and to move forward in a sensitive way.



Conscientious Carl is persnickety and logical in his thinking. He’ll expect you to do your homework and come prepared. You’ll gain ground by asking for his expertise and showcasing yours. Share your research, justification for the investment of time and money, and a detailed plan of action. Don’t let Carl’s skepticism or challenging questions put you off. He simply wants to make sure you’re recommending a high-quality solution.

Priorities:  quality, well-reasoned decisions, sustainable solutions

Needs: time to think, systematic approach

Motivated by: opportunities to use his expertise, challenging problems to fix

Get buy-in from Conscientious Carl: do your homework and don’t offer a half-baked solution, earn trust by demonstrating your expertise, send information for him to consider in advance, ask for his thoughts and opinions, present a well-crafted plan with quality checks built in.


When you need to influence a decision maker, start by giving them what they want. Ensure your approach and solution address their priorities, fill their needs, and tap into their motivation.  That’s the trick to strengthening your relationship, earning their respect, and building trust. Then, you can take the next step to recommend what they truly need. And that, my friend, is the key to having long-term influence with even the most challenging decision makers!


You might recognize my four decision makers have one of the popular DiSC styles. If you’re interested in learning more about Everything DiSC and how you can use it to grow professionally and personally, book a call with me. I’d love to help you thrive!

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