The Political Structure

For a business to be organized, it must have a formal structure, that is, a clear distribution of authority and responsibilities. Most organizations go to great effort to clearly communicate this distribution. They want to remove any doubt about people’s responsibilities, and as a result, they produce and present an organization chart. Clean lines portray a systematic delegation of authority, responsibilities, and tasks; it depicts the official structure.

It is important in selling to understand the official organization chart and to gather insight about the people who are directly involved in a decision. But you won’t find out everything you need to know merely by looking at a chart. For example, it does not reveal who will indirectly be involved in the decision. Although these people may not be “official” decision makers, they do influence the decision makers. To determine who they are, you need to identify the informal hierarchy—the political structure.

An organization’s political structure is its Power Base, and the people in the Power Base are those who have political strength and influence. There is a distinct difference between influence and authority.

Unlike authority, influence is not visible. But the exertion of influence is.

Therefore, unlike the official organization chart, the Power Base generally is not visible. Nobody publishes it for public consumption. And since the Power Base is not easy to see, few sellers do. You have to know what to ...

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