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Targeting Your Sales Approach: Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot

3 Jul, 2006 By: Howard Meltzer imageSource

Targeting Your Sales Approach: Don’t Shoot Yourself in the Foot

ready to go. You’ve checked out the company and its structure. You know who the
players are, particularly the CEO. Now is the time to go after them from the top
down. All you have to do is get an appointment with the big guy and you are on
your way to a major sale.

All of your training and reading has pounded in the fact that to be
successful you have to start at the top. After all, senior executives are the
only ones who can get a deal done. So, you are ready to simply walk in the door
and ask to see Mr. Big; speak his language, and you are on your way to a big

In the worst case, you will benefit from the “trickle down effect” – an
introduction from the CEO to the CIO or the VP who is responsible for
operations. It’s a win – win, right? Wrong!

Think again before you make a critical mistake. Consider these points:

Executives are literally inundated with people
just like you. The chances of you getting through the screen are slim to none.

While the executive you have targeted will give
his/her approval, it is increasingly rare for them to directly manage the
project. More typically, they empower their senior and mid-level management to
get the facts then present a recommendation.

Without that recommendation, you are dead in the
water and will literally blow the deal.

The surest way to get someone to engage is if they
personally feel the business pain your product or service can solve. Most often,
the chief executive is simply not that person, no matter how important your
solution may be.

Innocently going over the head of the person
responsible for your program will sour them on what you are proposing.

Even if you are able to reach Mr.Big, chances are
he will pick up the phone and call the person responsible. You will have
absolutely no control over what is said and may very well lose any chance of a
fair meeting with the person you should have talked to in the first place.

Here are five points that will improve your chances of a fair meeting from the
right person:

1 Start with the person that is most likely to feel the pain.

2 Initiate your campaign at multiple levels simultaneously.

3 Remember cross functional boundaries. With technology products and services, a
decision will involve several organizational groups. Never assume that every
company has a vertical decision-making environment.

4 Build off every point of contact. As you engage with various decision makers,
you can wield amazing power by referencing those conversations with others. A
phrase to a CXO such as  “I’m talking to Joe and assume he’s the right
person to be talking to about this”, or to a mid-manager that “I left a message
for  your CEO, but thought I would call you as well” will give the
impression of an “insider” and open up people at various levels to share more

5 Understand and accept your level of relevance. It may sound obvious, but if
you are trying to sell toner cartridges to the CIO, you are calling on the wrong
person! Each purchase has a natural level of diminishing management interest. A
mid-level manager who actually cares about your offering and has the ability to
get it done is more advantageous than a disinterested CEO any day.

So, before you charge in the door calling for the CEO, think again and
realign your sights on the correct target.

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