Get a Meeting With the ‘Elusive Decision Maker’


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Scheduling a meeting with the right decision makers and all the decision makers is a selling challenge that has been around for years. And in an attempt to solve this challenge, many sales managers deliver ‘hard’ sales skill training to their sales team in an effort to get them to set up meetings with the ‘C-Suite.’

Lack of emotional intelligence skills, soft skills, is also one of the reasons that salespeople continue to meet with prospects that can say no, but can’t say yes. Strategic and tactical selling skills are important. Equally important are emotional intelligence skills. Here are two EI skills that make a BIG difference when calling on the ‘top dogs’ in an organization.

#1: Self regard – In the emotional intelligence world, this is defined as a person who has self confidence in their abilities. In debriefing hundreds of sales calls, I have found lack of self confidence one of the key reasons for not calling on the ‘C-suite.’ More than one salesperson has shared this concern. “I’m worried that I am going to be asked a question I don’t know the answer to.” Or, “This person has a bigger title than me—why are they going to listen to what I have to say?” As a result, many salespeople never even make an attempt to schedule a meeting with the real buyer. Or when they do schedule a meeting, they don’t show up very well. They are nervous and lack confidence. And if a salesperson isn’t confident of the product or service, why should the prospect feel confident investing or switching vendors?

Self confident salespeople have a different mindset and belief system. They know that decision makers are busy and value competent salespeople. They recognize these busy individuals appreciate a partner that will help craft a solution to a problem they don’t have the time or expertise to fix.

The confident salesperson is confident because she is prepared. She takes the time to pre-call plan and asks for coaching from her manager or peers BEFORE going on the appointment. (No, she is not practicing influence skills in front of her prospects.)

#2: Assertiveness. This EI competency is defined as the ability to ask for what you need without becoming aggressive. Assertive salespeople set agreements early and often on what they need to make this selling scenario a win-win proposition.

The non-assertive salesperson ‘goes along to get along.’ When a non-decision maker asks for a proposal early in the sales process, the non-assertive salesperson agrees—and another practice proposal is written.

The assertive salesperson states what he needs. And what he needs is an audience with key buying influences to insure that what he is selling is a value for the potential client.

He recognizes that if a prospect isn’t willing to help facilitate those meetings, he is being treated as a vendor, not a partner. And when you are treated as a vendor, you are set-up for a price shopping decision, not a value decision.

We are almost at the end of the first quarter. Review your first quarter wins and losses.

  • How many were lost because you weren’t speaking to the right decision maker or all the decision makers?
  • How many practice proposals did you write?
  • Are you being treated as a partner or a vendor?

Get a seat at the opportunity table by integrating both emotional intelligence skills and hard selling skills. Remember the age old principle in sales: decision makers make decisions.

Good Selling,

Colleen Stanley

Chief Selling Officer

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colleen Stanley
Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership, Inc. a business development consulting firm specializing in sales and sales management training. The company provides programs in prospecting, referral strategies, consultative sales training, sales management training, emotional intelligence and hiring/selection. She is the author of two books, Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success, now published in six languages, and author of Growing Great Sales Teams.


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