Connecting with Top Decision Makers
A common mistake in sales organisations is to implement an appointment setting strategy that treats all contacts equally.
You and I both know that not all managers in a company have the same buying authority. To add to this, very often we don’t know the current relationship status between our prospects and our competitors. Is it good, bad, indifferent?
Let’s say you are selling IT support services and your primary contact is the IT Support Manager.
You already know they use your competitors’ service and you’ve been told that they are satisfied with the service they currently receive, thank you very much. But what you don’t know is that every couple of months the IT Support Manager is brought out for a meal, given tickets to his favourite annual sports event, perhaps even taken away on a jolly. And these have had a direct impact on the decision whether to talk to you or not.
The top decision makers in a company aren’t always as swayed by these occurrences. They are privy to information about the business that lower level managers do not have access to.
If your solution can clearly demonstrate value to the organisation as a whole, you will get a meeting with the decision maker.
It won’t close the deal for you, but it makes it a lot easier to sell. (I cover this in our article Selling Technology: Best Practices for Sales People, but read on, the link is at the end of the post too).
I’ve used the practice of calling decision makers directly in the past. When I worked at NCR, one of the services we sold was Programme Management Services.
A cold call I made to a CFO of a company resulted in an initial meeting that expanded into a sale.
One of the best ways to fine-tune your lead generation approach is to connect with top decision makers from the beginning of the process.
The following are key benefits that explain why reaching top decision makers is integral for optimised appointment setting.
Time is Money
Sales improvement is a constant battle to maximise time efficiency.
A common waste of time is meeting with people who don’t have the authority or resources to make a purchase decision. What often happens is that sales reps are excited to get someone inside an organisation to agree to meet, but they don’t consider that this time investment is often redundant.
At best, you meet with the initial contact and invest time nurturing the connection, only to find out after the meeting that someone else is the primary decision maker.
Even worse, some low-level connections play along with your sales process to feel important, and you meet multiple times before learning that person has no authority to buy.
Avoid the Block
In some cases, low-level contacts can shut you down before you progress through the corporate food chain.
Think of a kid playing divide and conquer with his parents. If he goes to Parent A initially, that person may have agreed to the request. However, because Parent B said, “No,” Parent A feels obligated to abide by that decision to support the other authority figure.
In an organisation, if a low-level manager tells you his company has no interest in your solution, it ‘s hard to attempt to connect with a higher-level authority.
You will certainly have at least one person committed to stopping you after you stepped on his toes and you can be guaranteed that he has flagged this to his current supplier.
They’re not going to lie down and let you march in and take their customer away.
Sell Higher Value
Top-level decision makers buy for strategic or business fit, not product or solution fit.
Therefore, they have a willingness to invest more money in solutions that help them reach growth objectives or that align with cost-cutting measures.
By getting to the top decision maker right away, you get a chance to explain how your solution fits into the long-term goals of the buyer’s firm.
At lower levels, managers are mostly concerned with how a product or solution meets the day-to-day responsibilities in his particular position.
Even if the low-level person has purchasing power, his budget and willingness to spend it are less.
The advantages of connecting as soon as possible with top decision makers are clear.
You gain significant time-efficiency, increase your ability to be heard by authoritative buyers and have opportunities to sell higher value solutions.
Don’t lose out to your competitors by thinking you can’t or shouldn’t talk to the main decision makers from the outset.
Ensure you have the information they will want to hear before making the call.
If you do this, and if executed correctly, you will reap the rewards and be one step ahead of your competition.
Further Reading: Selling Technology: Best Practices for Sales People