DSR Dave shares his experience and thoughts on what person at a prospect and at current accounts, DSRs should be calling on…
Who is the ultimate decision maker?
In the first few years of my DSR career calling on Chefs and GMs, I quickly learned the lesson that it was more effective, and actually fun, having my relationship with the business owners and high-level management than it was getting beat up by chefs and purchasing folks over the daily problems that arise and the chance of them getting upset enough to kick me out of the account. My relationship is with the owner or upper-level person making my position in the account more stable.
Top-level executives, Chefs, GMs, and Kitchen Managers might run the daily operations, but if a customer does not pay their bills, who is responsible?
The buck stops with the owner.
Do you know what you typically find when you call on owners or executives?
More professional people who are thinking bigger. Because they are more interested in making money and achieving their goals than beating up a vendor over $.75 per case, they tend to be nicer. Most owners are more concerned with solving business issues and achieving better results than they are with protecting their jobs or the status quo.
Also, you must realize how often Chefs, GMs, Kitchen Managers, etc. leave the operation requiring you to start all over when the new person comes in. Not so if you are dealing with the owner or top-level executives.
Some reps proclaim they’re having a difficult enough time getting in to see their normal contacts, so how in the world could they have success going after the big guys?
DSRs scare themselves into believing they can’t handle selling the owners and higher-level folks when calling on prospects.
Targeting contacts higher in the customer organization is actually easier in many cases because those folks care about their business in a different way, and because for the most part, they hardly ever get called on. It is easier to move down the ladder versus trying to move up the ladder after first calling on someone at a lower level.
Throughout my sales career this lesson has served me well. You might have to consider what type of preparation you would need to feel equipped to call on contacts higher up in your accounts and those with prospects.
The key to gaining the interest of owners and senior executives is to be able to connect with them on issues that are on their mind. DSRs must speak in the language they understand.
Executives tend not to get involved in piddly stuff and they are not really even interested in the details of your products or services. However, they are very interested in solving business problems and improving results in the areas under their control.
I wanted to be perceived as someone who could bring value and help solve business issues, not just another “SALESMAN” pushing the same products as all the other distributors at a lower price, especially since my price was generally higher.
By the way, I could not stand to be called a “SALESMAN” because I did not feel like I was, I always felt like a marketer of programs to my partners, the operator.
It is essential to have a sharp, customer-focused sales story.
If you are hesitant about attempting to shoot for significantly higher-level contacts, answer this question:
What could happen, the worst case?
Consider the possible outcomes… they ignore you or flat-out tell you no. How is that any different from the current status of that account? It is not any different!
You didn’t have their business before you shot higher and now you still don’t.
Even after a “No” from that owner or upper-level exec, you can still move forward and take your shot at the level you customarily target because they have no clue you missed the mark in the corner office.
However, the reverse is not true if you begin at the lower level and get told no, it is infinitely more difficult to then take your pursuit up the ladder.
That’s how salespeople make enemies within the prospect organization. We can always scale our way back down the ladder, but it’s very dangerous going over the head of people who believe they have the right and authority to tell us no.
The best thing that can happen is that you gain the interest of the higher-level contact and earn an opportunity to move forward.
The next best scenario isn’t so bad either, in fact I’d call it a minor victory. That’s when the executive resonates with your approach and your story but instead of inviting you to the table, she/he directs you to the appropriate person within her organization.
In other words, she liked what she was hearing, but chose to send you to someone else better suited to evaluate what you’re offering.
When you do make that call on the owner or a higher-up, you won’t believe how much easier that call or e-mail is to the person the executive referred you to. Example: “Hi Jim, it’s Dave Miesse. We haven’t spoken before, but I was visiting with Ginger Iceberg and she asked me to connect with you about your specs on products and maybe doing some business together.”
I promise you it is worth using this approach.
Be a Resource and SELL SOMETHING!!