If there’s one thing we can all likely agree on, it’s that at some point in the sale, you’ve got to find and get in front of the senior decision maker at the customer’s organization to get a deal done. At a lot of member companies we work with, this very commonly takes the form of a “target the customer’s executive-suite” strategy.
In other words, let’s track down the customer contact that will own the decision, or at the bare minimum, figure out the people within the customer organization who can get us access to that person.
We’ve done some recent work at the Council that sheds interesting light on the effectiveness of this strategy. In a survey of senior decision makers across several hundred of our members’ customer companies, it turns out, the thing senior contacts at customer organizations care about in any large deal is NOT a potential supplier’s solution.
Instead, the number one thing that these senior contacts care about is, in fact, their own company’s buy-in around that solution.
This makes a lot of sense. After all, what senior decision maker wants to spend a substantial amount of money and allocate scarce resources on the implementation of a new solution…only to find out that everyone’s against it? That’s a recipe for disaster.
And so, as companies have moved to selling ever-more complex solutions (bigger deals, higher margins, higher price points), not surprisingly, decision-makers at customer organizations have been even more wary of going it alone.
As a result, today we live in a world where even when a sales rep does the hard work of clawing his or her way up to the corner office…makes an effective pitch…and gets the decision maker excited…that conversation still ends with the senior customer contact saying something like: “This looks great and we’re excited to partner with you, …but I’ll tell you what, before we can get this partnership finalized, I just need you to go talk to a few key members of my team, our procurement folks, and get final sign-off from our legal department…then I think we’ll be good to go!”
Welcome to the complex world we live in today, the world of the consensus sale.
So, what now? If you’re that sales rep, what should you do?
Through our research this year about the different customer types you’re likely to run up against, we’ve found that relying on an old-school strategy of finding friendly, senior-level advocates, just doesn’t cut it.
If your goal is to get a deal done, you have to depart from the “decision-maker-only or bust” strategy, and start finding the customer contacts that can mobilize action internally, are effective at building consensus, and can own & architect change within their company.
And these valuable contacts aren’t always the senior decision-maker…