Many of my clients hire me because they want more meetings or @bats.
Those with a more strategic orientation choose to work with me because they want to execute a competitively distinct prospecting and selling motion that starts top-down – with the CEO. They do this because they want more quality pipeline, faster sales cycles, bigger deals and more wins.
All are able to get meetings with CEOs, or the CEO’s introduction to other senior leaders and decision makers (read “budget creators”) in seconds, minutes, hours and at most a few days.
It is absolutely thrilling to see the renewed sense of purpose and energy from BDRs and salespeople who, the day before, hadn’t been getting ANY replies (from VP, Director and Manager job titles) to getting meetings with (and introductions from) the CEOs that they now focus their time and energy on.
And sometimes, they just get passed down too far – to a well-meaning, mid-level executive who is “vested in the status quo; can’t say ‘yes’ but can say ‘no.’”
What To Do When You’re Passed to a Person Who Has No Budget Authority
That’s exactly what happened last week with one of the salespeople on a sales team that I have trained, and continue to coach and mentor as part of an Executive Access program. (Think of it as a program designed to drive a magnitude increase in meetings and sales for a company in high growth mode.)
One member of this new business sales team got a reply and introduction from the CEO of a segment leader to another C-level and a Director at this company, thanking him for his timely and well-researched note and asking if he would continue with the two people copied in his reply. If memory serves me correctly, the reply was 52 minutes after sending his first email.
Fantastic result, right?! CEO referral to another C-level and their designate in under an hour – and with only one email! You’d think so, wouldn’t you…
Well, before this salesperson could reply with a note of thanks to the CEO for his kind introduction to the other C-level executive and Director, the Director pounced – thanked the salesperson and told him that he’d sent his note to the Manager of the department to evaluate if they wanted a conversation. You could almost hear the ‘zoom’ of that Director’s “not invented here” email being whizzed down the corporate decision-making hierarchy. You’ve got to laugh.
Well, I did anyway…
However, the salesperson I was coaching wasn’t as amused as I was – and of course asked what he should do now to get back to the C-level executive that the CEO had introduced him to.
Below is the reply email that I suggested he send (he did). The intent of the email was threefold:
- The awareness of it: Acknowledging and thanking the Director with good EQ (emotional Intelligence) and keeping him in the conversation to build the relationship. Realize that the Director was doing what he thought was wanted, to shield his C-level boss and redirect a salesperson away. Recognize that a new process or system means new headaches for someone at the Director level, so of course they may not be that keen on having a conversation.
- The spirit of it: The salesperson had conducted account specific research on the potential customer and believed that the potential customer had a multi-million $ opportunity – in cost savings and increased revenue – if the customer adopted his technology. He would be doing the CEO and that company a disservice if he allowed himself to be brushed off that easily.
- The focus of it: By placing the emphasis on the potential $ impact and the fact that he explicitly asked for time to have a business conversation, meant that the language appealed to the C-level executive, who promptly replied with a date/time that worked for him. Crisis averted.
Here’s What Worked
“(Directors Name), many thanks for forwarding to the (functional) team. Much appreciated.
“Before the (functional) team engages and per (CEOs Name) referral below, can I ask if you and (other C-level’s name) are able to join me on a call to validate if there really is a $X million opportunity available to (company name) that you could add to your bottom line – based on the results that similar brands like (Reference customer brands) achieved?
“I understand that (other C-level’s name) is responsible for (outcome/impact) and together you can decide that this is an opportunity worth pursuing…or not as the case may be.
“Are you and (other C-level’s name) available on day/time or day/time to have a business conversation?
“Look forward to it.
Push Back – Gently
How many of your salespeople would take the time and effort to push back gently like this (because they know it’s in the client’s best interest)?
How many of your salespeople would simply wait to hear back from someone on the functional team – and, at best, follow up with the Director when the functional team doesn’t get back to them?
If you thought the latter, then your salespeople lack awareness. And because they lack awareness, they lack choices, so they can only respond in a limited fashion and will get limited results:
The Law of Requisite Variety is a presupposition of NLP (Neurolinguistic Programming). It states that the system/person with the most flexibility of behaviour will control the system… The individual with the highest amount of flexibility of behaviour will have the most influence on the system.
As a leader, this is a training and coaching opportunity for you and your team that will deliver substantial improvement is sales performance. After all, if you count up how many of your salespeople simply roll-over when they get referred too low or a “no thanks, we’re good,” “no thanks, no interest,” or “contact me in 3 months” reply, you’ll see that there is plenty of opportunity to respond in ways that can get you into a sales opportunity.
If you’ve struggled with this issue for more than 30 days, that is a clear indication you need help. Give me a call.
If you want to learn more, feel free to email me at email@example.com or call me on +1 647-402-2096.
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