How will you get to the right people? This is the question every sales person should be asking and it seems to be the focus of just about every sales training program or methodology. Several years ago I had been working to get a meeting with a large healthcare organization in the southeast. Our team had successfully met with the IT people several times and had established fairly good rapport; however, sales were slow in coming and budget seemed to be our primary obstacle.
Our strategy was to land a meeting higher in the organization where perceived business value might move some budget our way. Finally, I was granted a meeting with the Vice President of Operations. This person had the authority to approve money and would certainly be central to a successful proof of concept or pilot type project. Our meeting started with the Vice President showing up late, but we were ready with our list of promising questions and discovery skills.
After an initial greeting and introduction, I launched into my “solution selling discovery process.” Giving me just enough rope to hang myself, our VP prospect answered the first question. But as soon as I began presenting my follow-up question, he looked over at our IT advocate and roared, “I thought you said these guys had something important to share with us. So far all I’ve heard are a bunch of open-ended sales questions. What is the purpose of this meeting?” How do you recover from that?
There are all kinds of tricks and strategies for getting that meeting at the top. However, in my experience, this is not the real challenge. The real challenge, which is not adequately addressed in most sales books, is that of building peer level relationships at the executive level. We have all gotten the “Big” meeting at some point in our lives, but how many are consistently staying at this level after the first meeting?
© 2011, David Stelzl