It would be funny if it weren’t so tragic: By going over, around, or through a middle manager or two, maybe alienating them in the process, a salesperson gets in to see the ultimate decision-maker (UDM). This is like finding the Holy Grail, the salesperson imagines. After all, hacking through the useless tangle of underlings in order to get to the big boss is what passes for a major achievement in many sales training courses and even in sales coaching sessions.
Here’s what often happens in real life: The UDM listens to the pitch, shows the salesperson out, and never returns another phone call. But the salesperson congratulates himself anyway for his clever strategy. “At least I bypassed those losers and got through to the top dog,” he says.
Who is the loser again? Leapfrogging influencers to get to the ultimate buyer is not a strategy. It’s not even a useful sales skill. It’s a recipe for failure.
If the sales training programs you’re using don’t tell you that, you need to find a better sales training program.
‘Influencers’ can be your best friends…or your worst enemies.
End users, middle managers, department heads, or vice presidents might not have the power to make your deal, but you can bet that some of them have the power to kill it. And they very well might, if you haven’t sold them. The UDM, after all, has more faith in their judgment than in your sales pitch. That’s why they’re called influencers.
In an ideal world—or in a world you might create by using truly professional sales skills–lower-level buyers would be your champions. They would want you to meet with the UDM. They would insist on it. They would coach you not only on how to make the meeting happen but on how to make it succeed. They would help you understand the company’s needs, and the UDM’s viewpoint, and how to speak the UDM’s language. They would guide you step by step through a sales strategy that would win you their company’s business.
Why would they do all that in the real world, not just an ideal one? Because they’d be convinced that if you win, they win. And why would they believe that? Because instead of brushing them off in your haste to get to the UDM, you engaged them using the sales skills you learned in a genuinely great sales training course. You asked great questions. You sold yourself, sold your company, and sold your product.
A sales process becomes a thing of rare beauty when lower-level buyers are won over as your sales coaches and champions. It isn’t really magic. But it sure feels that way.
For information about how to improve sales skills and make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.
About Duane Sparks
Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling. He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations. Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).
Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).