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EXECUTION Sales Pros: Question when selling to those who aren't the decision maker.

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Itizn

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Sep 25, 2019
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I sell a product that ranges in the low to mid 4 figure price tag.
I have a niche audience and operate entirely with outbound.

There's someone in my pipeline who is clearly ready to buy and wants to purchase, the problem being that he's just an employee.
After several conversations with him, the hold up in closing the deal is that the person who signs the checks (aka the owner) is a widow with one foot out the door into retirement and is barely ever in the office.

I'm aware selling to smaller sized businesses isn't the ideal way to go, and I've averted my process knowing this.
However I'm wondering how those in sales would handle this.
Drop it entirely? or keep engaging?

Thanks.
 

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gabriella

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I sell a product that ranges in the low to mid 4 figure price tag.
I have a niche audience and operate entirely with outbound.

There's someone in my pipeline who is clearly ready to buy and wants to purchase, the problem being that he's just an employee.
After several conversations with him, the hold up in closing the deal is that the person who signs the checks (aka the owner) is a widow with one foot out the door into retirement and is barely ever in the office.

I'm aware selling to smaller sized businesses isn't the ideal way to go, and I've averted my process knowing this.
However I'm wondering how those in sales would handle this.
Drop it entirely? or keep engaging?

Thanks.
In theory, you have to try ALWAYS to reach 'the person who signs the checks '.
 

Andy Black

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Make the employee look good and sleep well at night.
 

CoderSales

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Never talk to a muppet (someone who can't make a decision on their own) because, generally, they're a waste of time. There are influencers in organizations (like top sales earners, CFO etc) but that is a different topic.

In your scenario, who are you pitching and what exactly is their role/responsibility? You're essentially stuck until that owner gets on the horn with you for your services - just ask the person you're talking to for a scheduled meeting with the owner. And at some point, the owner will have to delegate things to someone else, right? Get that person on the phone too.
 

Itizn

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Sep 25, 2019
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In your scenario, who are you pitching and what exactly is their role/responsibility?
I'm pitching the individual who would actually benefit most from the product, and would actually be the one in charge of it's management and use, provided the sale goes through. That is exactly how I started talking to him in the first place when I placed my initial cold call as I was transferred over to him on my first sequence.

To paint a picture, lets say I sell CAD Software. The person I have formed a relationship with would be the director of engineering.

For the record, I am now selectively only looking to converse with decision makers and influencers when I make my initial call, but just wondering how to handle this one now. Especially, as I mentioned earlier and was led to believe, the owner is not as engaged anymore with the business so contacting her would be pretty damn hard.

@Kevin88660 I know you are in Sales as well, do you have any thoughts?
 

FlyingDutchman

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Drop it entirely?
No :)

Instead of dropping it, you will give 'your inside man' the tools to shine. You and your inside person are convinced of the value your tool will add to their business and now you need to show your product's power to the owner.

Solution #1 is to talk to the owner directly and show your value to her business. Ask your inside man what the best possible way is. Visit her church on Sunday, walk her dog, do whatever is realistic, as to people thinking about retirement, a personal touch has much more power than some sleazy virtual convincing.
If that fails, or if you don't get a chance to meet up in person or virtually with her at all, see below.
Solution #2 is to give your insider a free trial and after 2 weeks (or whatever applicable period) your guy can show her hard data to make her buy your product.
If you can't give a free trial or demo, you'll need to create an ROI calculation for the owner and nicely phrase the key benefits you'll add to her life & business.
 

Kevin88660

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I'm pitching the individual who would actually benefit most from the product, and would actually be the one in charge of it's management and use, provided the sale goes through. That is exactly how I started talking to him in the first place when I placed my initial cold call as I was transferred over to him on my first sequence.

To paint a picture, lets say I sell CAD Software. The person I have formed a relationship with would be the director of engineering.

For the record, I am now selectively only looking to converse with decision makers and influencers when I make my initial call, but just wondering how to handle this one now. Especially, as I mentioned earlier and was led to believe, the owner is not as engaged anymore with the business so contacting her would be pretty damn hard.

@Kevin88660 I know you are in Sales as well, do you have any thoughts?
I am selling Mainly to C or sometimes very small businesses so I do not meet the problem very often-navigating and figuring out who is in charge and how to reach the person.

Retail Clients need to talk to wife/husband.

For Small business usually it is the single owner decides Everything.
 

Andy Black

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Andy Black

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I sell a product that ranges in the low to mid 4 figure price tag.
I have a niche audience and operate entirely with outbound.

There's someone in my pipeline who is clearly ready to buy and wants to purchase, the problem being that he's just an employee.
After several conversations with him, the hold up in closing the deal is that the person who signs the checks (aka the owner) is a widow with one foot out the door into retirement and is barely ever in the office.

I'm aware selling to smaller sized businesses isn't the ideal way to go, and I've averted my process knowing this.
However I'm wondering how those in sales would handle this.
Drop it entirely? or keep engaging?

Thanks.
Maybe check out the videos here. It’s not 100% answering your question, but explains my thinking with something like CVs where you’re trying to sell to different people in the process:
In my experience, you’ve got to give all the ammunition to whoever you’re talking to in the organisation so they can sell upwards. The ideal is you get a quick chat with the decision maker, but sometimes you don’t get a chance.
 

CoderSales

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Feb 3, 2020
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They’re a muppet if they’re not able to sign off?
Right, if the person can't make the 'yes' decision, you're talking to a muppet. Not meant to be condescending, but if your time and $$ are on the line, I want to talk to the correct person. Being in ad sales for almost 6 years I had to learn that the hard way. I worked with a guy that was in the exact same situation and here's what he did: he called up his contact at the company and said "let me know when your CEO is in the office and I'll call in". The next day, he got a text that the CEO was in, he called in right away to the company and his contact transferred the phone call to the CEO.
 

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GoodluckChuck

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I just did this recently: closed a sale through an employee.

When I found out she wasn't the decision maker, I asked her what kinds of things the owner is concerned about regarding the deal. From there on I structured the conversation around those things. The next day, she emailed me to say "The owner is on board. Please send the invoice."

I would say I only close about 1/5 deals where I can't speak to the decision maker. It's because I depend on the intermediary to sell the deal to the decision maker.

You already got some great suggestions that cover everything I would recommend. I would only add that I would do my best to set up the person to be able to sell the project to the DM and then set a follow up on my calendar. My mentality on following up is "until they buy or die."
 

Stargazer

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How do you know the owner has one foot in retirement?

How do you know the owner is hardly there?

This is just what the person you are speaking to is telling you as the reason for no progression.

Has he even run it by the owner? I doubt it as he would have just said to you the boss is not interested or wants to know a bit more.

And if the first two statements are true then the person you are speaking to will know who is going to be taking over and when. Yet they haven't mentioned this to you either?

After several conversations?

This is a big red flag that something is not right with the person you are talking to.

The number one reason why this person is having several conversations with you is because it makes them feel important and makes it look like they are doing some work. Nothing whatsoever to do with buying from you.

If you don't believe me or @CoderSales call the person right now and ask him directly for the name of the person running the show in the owners absence and ask to be put through to them.

You will either get an excuse or you will get some momentum going. I know which option my money would be on.

Dan

PS: By the way there is nothing wrong with selling to small businesses. I don't know what you sell but not only will there be repeat business, cross-selling etc but pretty much every large business was a small business once. Keep an eye on your customers and try to see which ones are growing.

Good luck! :)
 

Itizn

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Sep 25, 2019
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Thanks for the responses.

Some notes to add on based on what you're all saying.

- Sure my inside guy could be misleading me/not taking this opportunity entirely seriously, regardless he's mentioned the names of several people involved in the process (name of his manager, and the name of the person responsible for sending invoices to the boss). I am confident during my next contact I'd be able to ask, who is the one that can expedite the sales process and when can I speak to them. Something along those lines.

- I am still pretty new at running sales calls so there's a lot to learn from and this particular prospect is, as is clear right now, is offering quite a bit of insight on how to handle the calls moving forward.

- I misspoke when I said this was a small company. There aren't many employees but do have a reported annual of 8 figures.
 

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