It’s common in the world of sales to talk about “calling high” in the organization. The idea being that getting to the higher levels means access to bigger budgets, as the execs at the top have the view from the top so to speak. At lower levels of the organization, budgets are smaller and competition can be tight for those dollars. But at the executive level, budgets can be moved around and combined for the right types of opportunities.
This is the new world of social sales where it should be much easier to get to the right decision makers at the right time. So I find it curious that most sales reps still tend to start their sales activities at the lower levels of the company versus getting to the relevant senior executive. I wondered why and decided to ask members of my favorite LinkedIn group – Sales Playbook – this question, “What are the top reasons that most sales people can’t seem to get a foot in the door to the C-Suite?” Reasons like fear, feeling “less than” and inexperience showed up. I happen to like how fellow Sales Playbook member @JerryVoltero summed it up. He said…
1. Lack of preparation to know who the true decision maker is that they should be talking to.
2. They do a lousy job of building rapport with the gatekeeper and don’t give them a strong enough argument for them to be the one who gets to come in and utilize some of that exec’s valuable time. Remember the gatekeeper’s job is to not waste the exec’s time.
3. If you are using a bottom up approach to get there, you have to get your champion to advocate with both the exec and the gatekeeper to get that proverbial foot in the door.
4. And once you get there, you better know what to ask them to figure out whether or not what you are selling will solve the business problem he/she has. Preparation is the key for sure.
And to Jerry’s point #4, preparation is not only key, it is critical! You may have a great product, perhaps even the best in your field, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore preparation. You may have the best product or service, but if you enter the sales process at the wrong time OR you don’t have the buy-in from the relevant senior executive, you have a big problem.
In today’s world of instantaneous access to information there is no excuse for lack of planning. Authors Nicholas Read and Stephen Bistritz remind us that…
“If you don’ take the time to stay current on your customers and prospects, the information won’t pop into your head by itself.” —Selling to the C-Suite.
I think that about sums it up!