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Engaging higher up decision-makers.

One of the great challenges selling to companies where you are not talking to the C-suite is how to make sure you are not sidelined by someone different than the contact or contacts you are engaged with in the sales process.

This may happen more than you may think. Remember the last demo or conversation with your sales contacts? The one where you nailed every question, every concern, where you felt you really clicked with the influencer? Then why is everything at a standstill all of a sudden? How did this project get cold? The influencer may have been re-directed by a higher-up decision-maker. Perhaps something like "I like vendor Y better - focus on their offering." A comment like that could be from the C-suite or even VPs that may have a strong opinion. It is always well-intended - most professionals that add a product or service into their business want it to work. Comments made by higher-up decision-makers are taken seriously by folks evaluating a product or service. If you are not aware of the biases or preferences of higher-up decision-makers the risk is that you are not going to get an opportunity to deal with their concerns. It is important that your value proposition is aligned with that of the company as a whole, not just with the area you are addressing. For example, if a company made it widely known that they are in cost-savings mode, then your discussions with the sales contacts need to take that into consideration as that theme will be shared throughout the company and decision-makers. Focusing on fancy features instead of on ROI is an example of how you could be alienating the higher-up decision-makers at a time where cost-savings trump fancy features. It is important that one of your sales processes includes a decision-maker event. But before you can even think of getting a decision-maker involved in your sales process (note: the decision-maker may not be the CxO - but it is someone outside the project evaluation team that represents the CxO project owner), you need to execute the sales process perfectly up to that point. Having a sales process that only deals with contacts not at the executive level reduces your chances to get the nod. Sometimes the folks you are selling to know this...and other times you may need to skillfully craft a decision-maker event into your process.


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