In last week’s Sales Shape Up, I shared two questions you could ask B2B prospects early in the sales process to determine if multiple decision makers could be involved.
This week, we’re going to discuss why it’s so important to do this.
Having to deal with multiple decision makers is a prevalent-but-irritating reality for sales pros. In fact, if your client is a medium or large company, multiple-decision-maker selling is the norm rather than the exception.
Nevertheless, the presence of multiple decision makers often comes as a surprise and something you don’t discover until you’re late in the process.
Let’s say you’re working with a decision maker inside a company, hoping to sell a software installation. Things are going well. You’re getting close to inking the deal. Your contact person within the prospective client company is excited about your offering, appears to have the authority to execute the deal and has spent a lot of time and energy getting ready to move forward with you. You could consider him an “advocate” because you’ve built a strong, trusting relationship with him, and he’s convinced your software is an ideal solution for his department’s problem.
Then, as you near the finish line, your advocate throws you a curve ball and starts talking about “taking it to committee” or getting approval from his boss’s boss. Or even worse, he says something like this: “We need to get final buy-in from the XYZ Department.” Still worse yet, he says the procurement department has to get involved before any purchasing contracts are signed.
Once this happens, you risk losing control of the deal, and ultimately, you risk losing the sale all together.
When other people get involved in an almost-done deal, the wheels start to come off. Here are some dangerous things that can occur when you find yourself in such a situation:
1. Another person in the prospective client company has a different provider in mind that she thinks is better than your offering. She could even be personally biased if a friend or family is involved.
2. Some influential leader in the company is opposed to making a change at this time and he uses this as the opportunity against moving forward. His opposition could be based on real, legitimate factors, or he could just one of those anti-progress guys who doesn’t want anything at the company to change. Even more troubling, he could get a kick out of being a road-blocker, because it feels good to mess stuff up for no reason.
3. The ultimate decision maker might not be “feeling the pain” associated with the company’s current situation, so taking the time and money to implement a new solution seems like a folly to him.
4. Another person in the company might have more work to do because of your pending deal. Because she’s just marking time until her upcoming retirement, she’ll do whatever she can to block your deal so as to prevent having a full plate of to-do’s in her last year on the job.
5. An attorney in the company’s legal department feels he better justify his existence in the company, not to mention his large salary, so he comes up with a bunch of seemingly imaginary holes in your proposal, which sends you back to the drawing board.
I could go on and on with examples, but the point is to be on top of this situation right from the beginning and be prepared to sell to multiple people.
Hey, before I let you go, are you looking for a way to get better at all aspects of selling?
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