Selling In The Right Time Frame – Sales eXchange 1962

By Tibor

Time Frame

One common theme here and at other quality sales sources, is the need to cover the entire buying organization, top down, bottom up, and all sides.  This not only eliminates the need to go around or over someone, but delivers a number of benefits and opportunities to sell and establish contacts and relationships.    Over the years there has been a lot written about the need for sellers to be “multi-lingual” in order to properly communicate with all levels of the buying organization.  Executives/decision makers/VPs in your target organization speak a differently than say the implementers or users of the product even when they are talking about the same thing.   If one or both do not understand what you are saying it is a problem.  When you call a on a VP, and deliver your message in implementer speak, you risk being banished down in the organization, because that is what you sound like, where you may be stuck for a while, extending you sales cycle, or forever, and never getting the sale.

Understanding how to communicate with the different groups, what their specific drivers, issues and hot buttons are, is a must, especially when they have viable alternatives to your offering, and they always do.  As you master this you will learn that not only do these groups speak different languages, they function in different time planes, which means you will also need to learn how to exist in multiple time frames.

VP’s will tend to have a longer time horizon than implementers.  In a very general way, there are those focused on strategy and the strategic direction of the company.  Once those strategies are decided and set, and things begin to move to the tactical execution of the strategy, as a result the time horizons of the implementers is shorter.  If you fail to manage this, it could be much more fatal than the language issue.  In fact mastering the different time frames will directly help with language, if you know where they are focused, you can speak to it, but if you are positioning for a different time than they are looking at, you are bound to miscommunicate.

If you look at the continuum of a purchase, it is likely that someone had an idea for a product or an initiative at the executive level.  They will then gauge support among their peers, while helping to shape the big picture.  They may then have some of the team leaders scope things out, costs/benefits, challenges, etc.; this may include consulting with outside parties, a great opportunity to introduce your company long before vendor selection process starts.  Once the project gets the go ahead, the implementers take centre stage.

Goes without saying that if you can insert yourself in the process at the scoping stage or before, you would have a great advantage, one reason to call high in the organization.  But if you speak the wrong language, and talk about feature/benefit, you in the wrong time frame, and in the wrong “country”.

Another advantage to getting in early, will be your ability to influence and impact their strategy, and with that done, you will be in a much better position when it comes to vendor selection, after all, you’re “a safe choice” vis-à-vis the executive, and while price will always be an issue, you will have set the standard much earlier in the process, or if you will time frame.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


  1. Hugh Sutherland

    Hi Tibor, another great thread. This extremely important point is essential in B2B selling but is either overlooked or avoided by many sales people for fear of “going over or around the contact” and a good chance of alienating implementers or users [perceived decision makers]. Also many executives refuse to give audience and refer sales people downwards. However its’ sound advice especially using the right “speak”.

  2. Tibor Shanto


    Thanks for the feedback, always appreciated.


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