Why, oh why, as salespeople, do we put ourselves in a position without access to the person who actually makes decisions on where dollars will be spent? Maybe it's important to look at why we aren't invited to the big kids’ table. It's because there are lots of people around us who have bad manners. They don't set agendas for meetings. They don't contract for next steps. They have nothing relevant to talk about, so they are perceived as time wasters (and they probably chew with their mouths open).
Even worse, I don't think salespeople ask to pull up a chair. We accept this treatment as status quo. And you know what that says about us? The decision maker is right. We aren't important enough to talk to anyway. So we stay stuck at the kiddie table, with all the other little ones eating mac and cheese, instead of steak and lobster.
Here's a quick tip. When you are calling on a prospect, who is not the ultimate decision maker (think mid-level manager, gatekeeper, decision influencer… anyone who has to get permission to buy), make sure you contract with them in the beginning. Let them know you don't expect them to do your job, and that you are in the process of reaching out to the decision maker to ensure that person will see both of you together.
Adding this contracting to the sales process early on will help improve your sales performance. You'll get to the decision maker, and it will help you command the attention your message deserves.
What do you say to the decision maker? How about this? "I know you've hired Mr. Director to handle your purchasing decisions. And I also know why you've done that—because most people doing the job that I'm doing, don't do it very well, and they've wasted your time. I do not intend to do that. I want you to know up front that I will be asking to meet with you face-to-face because it's important for me to explain to you how we can help you grow revenue. I look forward to seeing you soon."
And make sure you use your napkin.
Emily Estey is a VP / Senior Consultant at The Center for Sales Strategy