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How do you get to a senior decision-maker without upsetting your “champion” (who just happens to be one of their reports)?
- Be aware of this problem from the beginning. When you start prospecting, or when you are following up on leads, keep in mind the ideal profile of the executive who typically buys your solution. If the person you are speaking to is not this person, then be very careful investing large amounts of time in developing this relationship. Understand that your goal is to advance the sale. You can only do that by getting to the key decision-maker(s) included in the buying process for your product/solution.
- Get a referral. Be honest with your “champion” (but be tactful and polite as well). Tell them that typically you find that your solution is bought by an executive of “such and such” a type (their boss) and that you nearly always find that you need to meet with this person to advance the buying process. If your champion really wants to buy then they will arrange a connection/meeting with their boss. If they tell you why they cannot, then they usually give you great information on the “politics” of the account or give you clear reasons why this opportunity is not qualified.
In summary, do not end up spending excessive amounts of your selling time on people who do not meet your ideal buyer profile. They may work for the right company but they may not be able to buy. Use your champions correctly to “coach” you on how to advance the sale. Have them help you to get to the decision-makers in the account as quickly as you can. You will not get a sale from someone unable to buy.
If you want a review of the types of people involved in the buying process, check out Chapter Five of the “New Strategic Selling” by Heiman and Sanchez.