Ten ways to handle 'don't go around me' sales objections, widen the customer engagement, get around gatekeepers, and speak with the real decision makers.
Many sales people end up with only one strong contact in a customer's organisation. Few of these contacts actually instruct a sales person not to go around them yet many salespeople feel as if they might damage the relationship if they do approach others. When this happens the relationship becomes barriers that should be treated as sales objections.
Communicating with all of the people who have significant influence over the decision is important. If we only work through one contact, we can easily be misled or even lied to. Our single contact may not explain all the facts. He or she may accidentally or otherwise leave out key information. What if your main contact is deliberately misleading you? Suppose you were unwittingly relying on a competitors champion. Would you know? Could you be confident that he or she was being entirely truthful? Without more than one source for a piece of important information, it is easy to swallow mistaken or misleading information with disastrous results.
The other major problem with having only one good contact is that the stake holders - the people in a customer organisation who are taking an interest and have influence on the decision, rarely agree on what the real requirements are. Still worse, sometimes they can't even agree on how the decision will be made. It is essential to understand the different perspectives and position appropriate advantages and benefits for each key stakeholder or abandon control and adopt the 'hope' strategy.
Here are ten ways to get around a, 'Don't go around me' and avoid having a single point of contact.
- Ask about things beyond the knowledge of the contact.
Seek a 'don't know' response and ask, "Who does?" Then say, "I'll need to speak with them". Don't make it a choice. If you want to speak with someone with greater technical knowledge, ask a technical question. If you want to gain access to business or financial people, ask a question that only they would know the answer to.
- Don't ask, just do it.
Alternatively, get introduced via another customer contact, a business partner, or someone else in your organisation. It is easier to seek forgiveness than permission.
- Tell your contact that your boss is insisting that you arrange a senior level meeting for him.
Then say, "Can I get your help on this?" It is much better for your contact to be involved. If you still get resistance, indicate that you are under pressure from your manager (which is likely to be true) and that you have to approach the appropriate person, with or without your contacts help.
- When told, "It's my job to be the supplier interface."
Say, "I guess it must be an important project if they have assigned you to speak with suppliers. I imagine it is important to you that the solutions you put forward match everybody's needs. It certainly is to me. That's why we make it a point of posing a few questions directly to the people with an interest in the outcome. We have found it leads to a better result for everyone. Could try it out? You can be present and if it doesn't add some value, we can stop."
- When they say, "Their too busy to speak with sales people".
Say, "Their time is important and I certainly don't want to waste it. That's why I need your help to get a short meeting with the people involved. If they end up studying a proposal that isn't exactly right, we will be wasting their time. Can we work together on this?"
- When they say, "It's our policy".
Say, "Policy is important, particularly when it helps get a better result. I appreciate that you need to get a solution that addresses the issues and gets the desired results. Whether you buy from us or not, I would be letting you down if I didn't make sure that our proposed solution does what you need it to. Can you apply the policy to help us get the right result?
- When they say, "Ask me the questions and I'll get you the answers".
Say, "Protecting senior peoples time is important. That's why we want to hear from them personally. It's not that we don't trust you to ask the questions. We think it's important to hear the responses directly from the people making the decision because we learn more about the various needs. Where we have been able to do this, the process has uncovered issues that hadn't previously been discussed. Could we set up a meeting to find out if this is true for your situation?
- When they say, "I'm not convinced it will be worthwhile".
Say, "We could do it via a telephone conference with you present. How about you choose who we start with. It will only take about twenty minutes. Then if it hasn't added some value, we can stop there. Would this be all right?"
- When they say, "It wouldn't be fair, if we let you, we will have to let the others have the same access".
Say, "I certainly wouldn't want to be involved in an unfair competition. Getting the best value solution that will deliver the right results is the most important thing. If people don't ask for access, isn't it fair to assume that they don't feel it is necessary? If you give the amount of access that each competitor considers necessary, wouldn't that be fair?
- Arrange a demonstration or presentation to attract all of the people involved in the decision.
Ensure that you have sufficient freedom and time to personally introduce yourself to each of the decision influencers. Once you have made contact, it should be easy to get them to take your call, even if it is ostensibly just to follow up on the presentation.
Article by Clive Miller
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