The Right Person

I’m making sales calls but just getting passed from one person to another. How do I identify who is the key decision maker at a company, and what do I need to tell them in order for them to make a decision, before a call?

This is one of the biggest challenges salespeople face who are selling on the phone; whether that’s to generate appointments or to sell a product/ service. The first challenge is to understand who the decision maker is. I made this error a few years ago in my sales training company. I was pitching the MD of the business and had closed for an appointment and said to David, “as the MD I take it you’re the decision maker for choosing which sales training company to choose, correct?” “Yes,” he replied, and I left it at that. When I travelled 1.5 hours to meet him and had a meeting for nearly 2 hours which went brilliantly, I did an assumptive close at the end by saying “So David, what dates do you want to book then?” He replied immediately by saying “oh no, I would never commit to anything without running it past my business partner Brad, the FD of the company.” Inside I Was fuming, however as a sales professional I remained composed.

Why didn’t David tell me he had a business partner that was involved in making the decision? Because I asked the WRONG question!! If I would have asked “aside from you David, who else needs to be involved in making the decision when it comes to selecting a sales training partner?” Then he would have opened up and said “Brad and I”. I could then have arranged a meeting with the 3 of us and significantly increased my chances of getting a decision on the day. Instead I had to compile a proposal, return 3 weeks later and take another half a day out of my busy schedule to meet David AGAIN and Brad. I won the business, however that is not the point. If I would have asked the right question in the first place, it would have saved me an enormous amount of time and effort that could have been focused on other priorities.

To answer your second question “what do I need to tell them in order for them to make a decision, before a call?” Without knowing your objective of the call, this is a hard one for me to answer. The objective of my sales calls to a new prospect is to book a qualified appointment. If I am struggling to get hold of the decision maker then I will often speak to their PA or a key influencer and leave a powerful message with the objective of creating an interest for the decision maker to return my call. It will be a simplified version of the opening gambit I had planned, had I got hold of the key decision maker.

Let’s say I was calling a Letting agent and had to leave a message with the owners PA. I would say “please let John Smith know its Tony Morris, MD of TMI Training, a sales training company specialising in agency. Please make John aware we have helped over 60 letting agents in London double their rental stock by showing the negotiators how to gain landlords details and how to call them effectively resulting in valuations and I’d like to see if we can help his agency as well. My mobile number is…”

They key point to note is I haven’t bored the PA about what I DO; I have informed him/ her about what I have DONE SUCCESSFULLY with letting agents like them. As long as the message is passed on clearly, this is bound to cause an interest and get my call returned, which is my only objective at this point.

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