Depending on your product or service, decision makers are usually in a leadership capacity and as a result possess an element of influence and authority.
As leaders their feet are held to the fire for performance and results. They are under daily pressure to deliver specific outcomes and move the company forward.
As leaders they are the ones in the company who care the most about the problems you fix and the opportunities you enable them to leverage. They are the ones ultimately responsible for the performance and success of their company, organization or department and this fact keeps them on the lookout for ideas and options. (I hope you see the opportunity in that reality and find it encouraging!)
The fact they possess authority means they can make a decision. And the fact that they are always on the lookout for solutions and opportunities to move their department or company forward means that when the right solution presents itself they can and will take immediate action.
These two factors are the reasons getting decisions makers involved in your sales process will support your efforts to shorten your sales cycle. Top decision makers are motivated and have an action bias.
The Long Term Benefits You Will Personally Realize When Routinely Making Contact with Executive Decision Makers:
The majority of Salespeople are uncomfortable reaching out and making contact with Executive Decision Makers. They feel they are not worthy.
Often they are intimidated by the decision maker’s title and feel they do not possess the experience, knowledge and insights to make contact with them and engage in a meaningful and relevant conversation.
I completely understand these feelings because at one time I felt them and in fact was overwhelmed by them. They paralyzed me and prevented me from prospecting at the level that would ensure my success.
Fortunately I had a mentor who helped me understand that I could be very successful in engaging with Executive Decision Makers if I would do the necessary preparation.
I explained and illustrated the power of understanding and leveraging vertical market insights, business drivers, the consequences of not taking action and preparing excellent questions in advance.
My mentor encouraged me to trust that the right preparation would ensure my success, and he challenged me to make a permanent change in how I viewed the process of reaching out and contacting Executive Decision Makers and to take immediate action to become “unstuck”.
I took his advice. I trusted that what he was telling me was true, and even though I was terrified, I moved forward by studying and preparing my opening statement, key questions and vertical market observations.
He was 100% correct. It took me 90 days to get the traction I needed to get on pace to blow my quota out of the water. By following his advice I achieved an all-time high in sales performance and “graduated” from selling products to collaborating and making a solid business contribution in helping my customers achieve some of their key objectives.
I’m eternally grateful for his insights and support and I am glad to say that I have never looked back. (I hope you have a mentor to help you along.)
The Typical Situations When Decision Makers Will Get Involved in the Sales Process:
Obviously top decision makers will not get involved in the sales process for all products and services. The degree of importance and impact on an organization varies from product to product and some situations warrant their involvement where others don’t.
Here is a List of 9 Situations Where Top Decision Makers Typically Feel it’s Important For Them To Be Involved:
- Your solution will directly impact their base of customers
- Your solution will affect how they identify, secure and onboard new customers
- Your solution will affect their brand image in the marketplace
- Your solution will impact their cost and profitability model
- Your solution will provide them with a distinct competitive advantage
- Your solution will impact their market share
- Your solution enables the company to be more productive without adding to payroll and diminishing quality
- Your solution will touch and impact multiple departments within the company
- Your solution will impact the security and safety of employees and customers
How to Identify Your Decision Maker:
We all know the best way to get a decision maker on the phone is via a referral.
When we are in the position to mention an acquaintance, colleague or employee it brings with it instant credibility and an openness to quickly establish trust.
Referrals are always powerful but are especially helpful when attempting to gain audience with Executive Decision Makers. They truly do open doors.
In the absence of a referral I have found success with one of 2 approaches, and often a combination of the two:
- Make contact at least one level above where you feel the decision will be made
- Make contact at a low level within the organization for the purpose of getting information
Making Contact One Level Above:
When starting my sales process with a sizable new prospect, I have found it very effective to go one level above where I think the decision is made. There are 3 benefits to this approach:
- First it forces you to prepare. Calling at this level requires you to do some quick research on the company, their market, who some of their customers are and what they stand for. This upfront preparation will also prepare you to speak with the Executive Decision Maker when you finally get them on the phone
- Second, it forces you to prepare several relevant and meaningful questions that when asked demonstrates your insights into their world and quickly establishes credibility
- Finally this approach enables you to identify who the real decision maker is. You will find if you have prepared yourself to demonstrate that you have some knowledge of issues in their industry, and a bit about their company, you can quickly establish credibility with this person and 98% of the time they will be very open and willing to give you some insight into how the company makes decisions and who is involved in the process
It is essential when making contact with this person that you avoid “pitching” your product or service. This is guaranteed to immediately turn them off. When you describe what you do keep it very brief and high level.
For example, let’s say the prospect is a manufacturer. When you state what you do keep the statement in the realm of: “I work with manufactures in the area of supply chain to ensure raw material availability while reducing costs”. Keep it very brief and to the point.
Quickly mention that in your work with other manufactures you have identified several issues and opportunities facing their industry. State one or two and ask what their view of these issues is. Then wrap up your brief call by asking who in the company is most concerned with these issues and makes the decisions when it comes to initiatives and solutions.
If you were successful in establishing a level of credibility most people at this level are comfortable referring you to the right person. They know that if the decision maker they are referring you to does not want to speak with you they are more than capable of telling you that.
Making Contact at a Low Level:
With this approach your objective is to make contact with an employee that knows the lay of the land but has nothing at all to do with the decision to purchase your product or service.
Because they are not remotely involved in the decision making process they have no vested interest in blocking your entry. Contacts at this level can be very helpful in giving you insight into who’s who.
In my next blog I will give you some tips on how to qualify opportunity and keep your pipeline full of quality deals.
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