Whether you’re in a home office, or are a bricks-and-mortar retailer, or out calling on corporations, the ability to get in front of the decision maker is a skill worth spending some time, energy, and even money to master. Why? Because you will shorten your sales cycle, stop working deals that are not qualified, sell more, sell better, and gain referrals by working through decision makers.
I have spent many a coffee, lunch, or meeting with people who would like to be decision makers, and who are very nice, but ultimately did not make the final decision so I lost out on numerous opportunities – until I learned about the value of executive buy-in and in building relationships in the C-suite.
It is one of the most common mistakes I see the salespeople I coach and train make — because they feel their business is different, that they have to deal with a purchasing agent or someone who was delegated to handle part of the purchase the company is making.
The favorite question I like to ask is: Who, in addition to you will be making this decision? This gives credit to the person you are talking with, even if they are a peon in the org chart. Their answer will be telling – you’ll be able to pick up important information about how this company does business. If you don’t, then you need to ask a couple more questions.
Take a look at Marketing Profs article by Jeff Thull of Prime Resource Group on gaining executive buy-in. He lists some common scenarios (yep, been there, done most of ’em) and also offers three suggestions at the end – it is worth reading.
What executive relationship have you been putting off? Perhaps now is the time to persue it and get the business, or get a reason why it isn’t going to happen.. Post your thoughts.