Over half the problems encountered by salespeople are caused by their inability to gain access to the decision maker. Failure to be in front of the person with the ultimate authority to approve the purchase will, in every case, eliminate your ability to get a positive decision. You will, however, get lots of stalls (“I need to run it by…”) and plenty of “think it overs.”
Since one of your biggest challenges is to gain access to the decision maker, let’s take a moment to look at some proven tactics that will help you accomplish this difficult task and help you avoid spending your time with the wrong people.
1. Assume it. Early in the sales cycle ask, “When am I meeting with the decision maker?” If you get some push back, you need to say, “I’m confused, why not?”
2. Ask for it. Simply state, “I’ll need to meet with the decision maker. Can you arrange the meeting?” (I’m confused, why not?)
3. “Company policy.” “It’s company policy that we meet with the decision maker.” (Maybe it isn’t, but maybe it should be.)
4. Bargain for access. Some lower level folks who want to protect their “turf” or have an ego trip may deny you access until you’ve “proven” yourself. In cases like this it’s important to find out under what circumstances they would introduce you to the decision maker. When you’ve found that out simply state, “So if I understand this correctly, in return for proving to you that we can adequately address your challenges, you will introduce me to the decision maker. Right?”
5. Justification. “I need to understand the issues from everyone’s point of view. If I don’t understand what the decision maker’s issues are, my proposal may miss the mark. That’s probably not a good strategy for either of us, is it?”
6. “Biggest concern.” “My biggest concern is that I won’t be able to meet with the decision maker during this process and that might impact my ability to completely understand the company’s challenges and ultimately present a really good solution. Can we avoid that?”
7. Peer to peer. “Our president (EVP) wants to come to the meeting and wants to meet your president. Sorry, I have no control over this. Will you let him know?” Obviously this tactic gets other people involved, but sometimes that’s important.
8. Asking for help. People want to help other people. Use comments like, “I’ve got a problem and I need your help” or “I’m a little confused.” You’ll be surprised at how much mileage you get from this tactic.