Why Take NO From Someone Who Cannot Say YES?
By Paul Reilly
The higher up you go within an organization, the better the view. At a higher level, you have a better view of the customer’s needs and greater access to
high-level decision makers.
Although the view is better higher up, industrial distributors spend their selling time with lower-level decision
makers. In a recent Reilly Sales Training study, we analyzed
calling habits of industrial distributors. We revealed that
industrial distributor salespeople only spend 15 percent of
their selling time with high-level decision makers and 42
percent of their selling time with procurement.
High-level decision makers represent upper management. They include business owners, company executives
and directors. High-level decision makers can say yes without checking with anyone else. High-level decision makers
have a long-term view. A long-term view is favorable for
your value-added solution. Long term, the buyer focuses on
outcomes, not price.
Paradoxically, industrial distributors spend most of their
time selling value to those less likely to buy it. No wonder
selling value continues to be one of the greatest challenges
facing salespeople today.
Procurement managers and professional buyers make
concrete, short-term buying decisions. A short-term mindset
forces lower-level decision makers to focus on what they
sacrifice versus what they gain. That’s why procurement
focuses on price instead of long-term outcomes. To reach
a decision maker that appreciates long-term outcomes, go
higher, not lower.
Calling on high-level decision makers requires the right
attitude and skills. Some salespeople believe there is no
need to call on high-level decision makers. They assume a
business owner or upper management isn’t interested in
meeting. This attitude reflects the salesperson’s own short-sided view of what they sell.
Other salespeople don’t have the skills to sell at this level.
High-level decision makers think differently and buy differently. High-level decision makers are less interested in buying products and more interested in partnerships. Use these
three ideas when selling to high-level decision makers.
High-level decision makers have no patience for unprepared salespeople. Before the meeting, research their
organization and meet with additional contacts. Immerse
yourself in their business to gain an in-depth understanding
of their needs.
Before your sales call, establish your call objectives and
the customer call-to-action. Prepare some talking points
and questions to discuss with the high-level decision
maker. Consider sending the talking points to the high-level
decision maker before the meeting.
Finally, role-play the sales call with one of your internal
high-level decision makers. Ask your upper management
or owner if they are willing to role-play for a few minutes.
If you’re meeting with a business owner, why wouldn’t you
ask your owner to help you prepare? As business owners,
they think the same.
Discuss Needs And Concerns
High-level decision makers think differently. High-level
decision makers have different concerns than lower-level
decision makers. They focus on outside pressures, competitive positioning, deployment of resources and profitability.
To sell your value-added solution, you must understand
their needs and concerns. If you are meeting with a business
owner, ask these questions to guide the conversation:
• What trends are impacting your business?
• How are you positioned in your industry?
• What is your long-term vision for the organization?
• What do you need to be more competitive in your
• What does a successful partnership with our company