I hear this frustration from sales people and business owners daily!
As salespeople (and you are all salespeople, no matter your job title!) you should know that in order to make the sale, you need to be speaking to the ultimate decision maker. You can convince as many people working for your ideal client as possible, but if you don’t get the ultimate decision-maker on board, you aren’t going to close any sales.
Fortunately, if you’re great at what you do, and have taken the time to learn and perfect your sales skills, convincing the decision maker that they need to work with you shouldn’t be a problem.
Often the problem is, those pesky decision-makers can be very hard to get hold of. They’re often hiding behind PAs and receptionists, or they might have vague job titles that make it hard to even identify them as the person you need to speak to.
Don’t approach ‘gatekeepers’ as an obstacle to overcome
Quite often that frustration can escalate when talking to a gatekeeper, who are simply doing their job but I’ve never been an advocate using tricks to try to ‘get past the gatekeeper’. In my mind, there is no such thing as a gatekeeper. Yes, you might not be able to get through directly to your end target, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t useful speaking to whoever answers the phone.
Receptionists, PAs, office managers – all of these people will know the organisation inside out. Talk to them and try and find out more about the company, and that conversation could help you fine-tune your approach.
It never hurts to build good relationships with everyone you encounter, and you could end up with a friend or ‘coach’ ‘on the inside’.
(Want more tips on dealing with gatekeepers? There’s a whole blog post dedicated to just that!)
Am I speaking to the person with the right role?
The truth is, there are often several decision makers in an organisation, who contribute to signing off new projects, services and contractors. Each decision-maker will need to be approached differently, depending not only on their job role, but the ‘buying influences’ on their role. Each decision-maker will have different criteria they consider when making buying decisions, so you need to recognise the relevant buying influence.
There are four typical buying influences to every sale:
The Economic buying influence normally impacts the person who holds the purse strings. They will be concerned with the effect your business will have on their bottom line, so with them, you’ll need to talk about the ROI, savings you can deliver and other financial impacts.
The User buying influence is about how your product or service will impact how the decision maker and/or their team will do their job. Reassure them about how your proposal will (positively) impact their job responsibility and make life easier.
Decision makers affected by the Technical buying influence are concerned with the quantifiable aspects of your product or service. They’ll screen out based on the detail and performance of your offering. Find out what their criteria are and lead with data that shows you can meet these criteria.
The Coach decision maker acts as a guide, asking ‘how can we make this work’ and can help develop your proposal to better fit their business, providing insight into their organisation’s needs, and helping you to appeal to the other decision makers and their buying influences.
Don’t speak to the same person all of the time
There will be multiple decision-makers in the same company. If you’re not getting through to one, change tack and contact the others. Use your sales skills to connect with as many of the other decision-makers as you can identify, as the more of them you bring into the loop, the more likely you are to get that desirable meeting, and ultimately get the nod on that new contract!
If you’re still a bit unsure how to get the attention of those decision-makers and set the appointments you want, you might benefit from a chat about your sales process. I can look at your current set up, suggest ways where you could improve your chances of winning new clients, and provide tips and training to fill in any skills gaps. For an obligation-free chat about your sales, drop me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your best number and I’ll give you a call.