Companies buy from companies, unfortunately much of that buying happens at single touch points, between a specific individual and a specific seller, leading to the more familiar and accepted facts of sales, that is “people buy from people”. This works great when there really is just one buyer, and no other influencers in the decision. For many this not the case, decisions involve numerous people, and if as a seller you are not speaking with them, you put your success at risk.
The logical response is to sell to all people involved in the decision, and while no one would argue the logic, many avoid it. Some do not even know who is involved in the decision, they are not the ones that we are talking to here; here we are looking at the many that know there others in the decision, know who those people are, yet still refuse to engage them.
Recently I had a seller tell me that they can’t approach an executive they know was part of the decision, “I can’t just call on them, they are an executive”, this is much more common than you suspect, many sellers still believe that there is some caste system protocol they have to adhere to in selling.
When you drill down, one thing becomes clear, the discomfort comes from their inability to talk to those executives, they feel out of place, not knowing the language and customs of the “Executive Caste”. But those languages and customs can be learned, and integrated into your selling.
I then hear, “well what am I supposed to do, how can I know or learn?” The answer is that you already know, and if not fully, you have resources that are not only friendly, willing to help and come free. They exist in your own company.
For example, you come to learn from your deal review (wins/losses/no-decision), that the CFO has played a key role in the decision, but you are not familiar with their customs, habits, and language, and as a result don’t know how to approach and engage.
Well I am willing to bet that your company has a CFO or VO of Finance; why not talk to them, they would have all kinds of insight, things that can help you throughout the sales cycle. From what makes them take a call from a seller, what kind of things they would be looking for to participate in a discovery process, and all other aspects of their buying habits.
While it is true that each individual is different, there is enough commonality in the role any time that you spent with your CFO, CEO, COO, CTO, and other leadership roles, will pay off in learning about their thought process, likes, dislikes and the general dynamics at that level.
You will still have to work at coming up with valid talking points, but better leveraging an experienced and friendly coach down the hall, than to go at it blind, or worse, not go at all.
What’s in Your Pipeline?