As a sales professional, do you work with your key contact within prospect and customer organizations as if you’re married to him or her?
I’m not talking about bonding or providing high service levels; of course, you should be doing that. I’m referring to the need to work with other key contacts in the company.
Whether you’re selling single transactions or full solutions that require a broader decision-making-unit, far too many times sales professionals get stuck in the rut of working almost exclusively with a single point of contact.
Some sales experts refer to the role of your single contact as a coach or mentor – offering guidance and insight along the sales process. Granted, there is a need in complex sales cycles to leverage the aid of an insider-coach. But many times, that individual is a different person than your main point of contact.
The challenge I want to address is the sole reliance many sales professionals make on a single point of contact.
To highlight the issue, let me share a quick story about a sales representative who got stuck on a deal. He had a target prospect in mind and had completed the necessary research to decipher who he should be calling upon, the VP of Product Management.
However, prior to making that prospecting call the salesperson received an inbound inquiry from another individual in the company, the controller. Given that his initial discussions with the controller, he maintained that course as he pursued gaining the company’s attention and interest.
To make a long story short, the sales process was dysfunctional. The controller seemed to be galvanized to the project review and sales process but he was not in the proper position to lend any weight to the decision.
The sales professional in the story above felt an obligation to continue on with the lone individual to whom he first established dialogue. He had a good rapport and like many of us, he got stuck in a rut. As time passed, his relationship with this single contact (the wrong contact) became stronger and stronger until it seemed almost impossible to phone someone else in the company. He was stuck.
Please understand that you are not married to any individual within your prospect companies. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been connected or who contacted whom initially.
This is America. Capitalism at it’s finest, excepting the bailouts of course. You have a right to pursue other individuals in your target prospect or customer company. Don’t rely on single point of contact; it’s too dangerous. Lord forbid, he or she gets hit by a bus or some other event that removes him or her from the picture. In that case, you’re suddenly an outsider.
Even in the best case scenario, you’re still left with one contact; no matter how good that may feel, you are not getting deep or wide.
Think of it this way. If the controller had never phoned the sales company, the sales professional would have pursued the correct contact, the VP of Product Management. It’s likely that he would have gained the attention and interest of the prospect and the value proposition would have moved forward.
Just because a specific contact engaged your firm, or even if you initially reached out to a specific individual, it does not mean that you are married to that individual. You have every right to engage multiple contacts within the prospect organization. Granted, there may be some diplomacy needed and you may wish to tread lightly to avoid alienating your key contact. But, do not let that stop you from establishing relationships with multiple points within the target organization.
At Empowered Sales, we focus on the power of customer intimacy. Bear hug the customer and they’ll not only tell you what the winning hand needs to be, they’ll tell you when to play which cards.
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