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You Get Delegated to the People You Sound Like

Sales executives have complained to us forever that their salespeople don’t (can’t?) call high enough. Many of them lament the fact that their sellers prefer to call on the potential users of their offering, rather than on the decision makers who can actually buy the product or service.

What happens when sellers do get an audience with a decision maker? In many cases, they present product features and functions to someone who has no interest in or time for such a presentation, and they get delegated. They get delegated to someone else in the organization who shares their interest in product features and functions, but—almost by definition—lacks the power to buy.

Why does this happen? As we’ve already seen, part of the problem probably lies in the product training the salespeople received. If they are trained in the hundreds of features and marketing hype of their offering, then isn’t it reasonable to expect them to regurgitate features and hype, regardless of the buyer’s title?

Most senior executives will allocate about 30 minutes to a sales call with a salesperson who has proved competent enough to get an appointment with them. But few executive calls last a full 30 minutes. If the seller begins expounding on technology, features, platforms, network architecture, and so on, senior executives are quick to delegate them to the people in their organization who care about technology, features, platforms, network architecture, and so on. In many such cases, it would have been far better not to have called on the executive at all. Your company’s position may have been compromised in the eyes of the buyer. Access to decision makers is a high-risk, high-reward proposition.

When we work with Marketing departments to create Sales-Ready Messaging—that is, messaging that allows sellers to converse with decision makers—one of the major difficulties we face is the shortage of people in our client organizations who know how decision makers (by job title) view the use of their offerings.

This is true whether you’re talking with Product Development, or Marketing, or Sales. There is a notable exception, however: The people who understand how their customers think about using the product tend to be the professional-services people. Why? The answer is clear: because it is their job to help customers achieve goals, solve problems, and satisfy needs through the use of their offering.

It’s not that complicated. Our goal in Customer Focused Selling is simply to help our clients develop Sales-Ready Messaging—messaging that will enable their salespeople to have peer-to-peer conversations regardless of buyer title, in turn creating visions in the buyer’s mind of using their offering to achieve goals, solve problems, or satisfy needs.


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