As a former CEO of a good size industrial company, I always found it strange that I didn’t have more salespeople call me directly. Did they know I always answered my own phone? Did they not intuitively understand that, at some point, I would be involved in any major buying decision? Did they not grasp that getting to know me and understand my thinking would be a smart move in closing any sales with my firm? And, to me, starting at the top seems to be the best place to begin any sales cycle, yet my phone rarely had salesman attached to the other end and many studies on sales techniques confirm this.
Would you be surprised to find out that more than seventy-five percent of high-level decision makers are involved early-on in any major buying process? A more shocking statistic yields that less than five percent of all salespeople talk to the high-level decision maker. Why is this?
Global Marketing, Inc. held discussions with many salespeople about this inhibitor to greater sales achievement. Lack of business knowledge, low confidence or no experience connecting with high-level decision makers is the most common feedback as to why these sales people don’t start at the top. Global Marketing suggests that if you have these individuals in your organization – route them out fast or train them how to approach and close on high-level decision makers, or your competitor will!
Selling at the highest level in any account makes good selling sense. Calling on these top-level people means talking to someone who has the ability to say "yes" or "no" to your idea. Going straight to the top means shorter sales cycle, better treatment, and will create additional pull for your idea. Those that sell at the top usually find there is less competition because (as earlier stated) most salespeople are too intimidated to call on the top decision maker. And when was the last time you heard a top decision maker suggest that they don’t have the budget for an idea they like.
Failure to call at a high level within a targeted business come with a variety of salespeople rationalizations. Many individuals we spoke to said they were afraid to go over the head of their lower-level contact in fear of offending them. Others stated they feel intimidated by the top level decision makers.
Other on-going ‘myths’ surrounding senior level decision makers:
- I’ll never get by the screener to gain an appointment.
- These people have more important things to do.
- These are smart people with Yale or Harvard MBA’s.
- Most high-level decision makers hate salespeople
Successful sales people I know don’t buy-into these or other myths. Remember, that high-level decision makers did not reach the top by being aloof. Many organizations promote from within and these top people usually recognize the importance of meeting with key decision makers. Besides, in today’s business, most organizations are flatter making the key decision maker more accessible. However, the bottom line for any solid sales approach is to bring something of value to the high-level decision maker - this will ensure you will always get their attention.
Working and connecting with high-level decision makers takes a practice and a willingness to plan your sales call. Recognize that you must understand how high-level decision makers operate. Typically, they are more direct. No long-winded chat-chat for these guys. They like to control meetings and are more strategic in their thinking and decision making. Something that may take lower-level contact months to decide may be acted on immediately by the high-level decision maker. They take measured risks and make calculated decisions, so don’t waste their time by presenting canned presentations, or lack an understanding of their business -- usually these high-level decision makers are looking for you to make a difference in their business, not just make a deal.
As a young salesman, a person I came to respect gave me some sage advice -- “begin as you mean to continue”. Have your salespeople start at the top. Your business will achieve more and your competitors will envy you.Print this post