The reality of human communication is that you will be misunderstood, and often.
In sales, effective communication is essential. Fail to convey the right message and you could lose a deal, burn a lead, tarnish your personal reputation or that of your company.
It should be considered an invariable truth that following a presentation people will only remember a quarter of everything you said and none of your intention!
Think about every bad call you’ve ever had, or every deal that fell through and ask yourself: did they really understand what I was offering them? Did they understand the value? Then, think about where you’re accountable for what they didn’t understand!!
- You will not always convey your message effectively.
- The act of listening is not free of distraction or disturbances.
- The recall capacity of working memory diminishes over (even short amounts of) time.
This makes the importance of talking to the RIGHT person essential for salespeople. The reality is that many sales conversations begin with tangential influencers that can’t make a final decision themselves. Furthermore, salespeople will often rely on these influencers to relay their message internally, on the hope that the combination of their position and knowledge about your tool will help bring a deal in.
If you’re good, no one is more qualified than you to convey your message internally. It is a tremendous error to let anyone that isn’t an ultra-empowered deal mobilizer try to advocate for you internally. Doing so is the lazy approach.
What you can do:
Imagine that you’re on a call with an influencer, and he/she is cautious about putting you in touch with the decision maker before they can personally vet your solution…
1. Identify the decision maker!
It might seem to go without saying, but do your job right! You must know who the decision maker is as early as possible; otherwise you’re wasting your time! The faster you get the name of the person, the more realistic closing a deal will become! Here’s why, sometimes your influencer isn’t really an influencer, they’re just a talker who doesn’t know how to get things done, but if they’re able to identify the final decision maker, then this is a sign that your potential deal may actually have legs! Moreover, it gives you the ability to pressure that influencer to create an intro to them.
2. Define the decision making criteria!
If you’re eager to get an intro with a decision maker via a hesitant influencer, then its best to try and learn what the decision making criteria of the decision maker will be. Imagine the influencer is hesitant to create an intro, then at the very least you need to know what the decision maker would be most interested in (or concerned about) regarding your solutions capabilities. Finding this out will give you the ability to assuage the influencer’s resistance over creating an intro, by addressing these criteria directly! Thus, you will build the influencers confidence in your ability to speak directly with the decision maker!
3. Ask for the Intro!
Once you’ve identified the decision maker and what will be most important to that person, then all that remains is to ask for the intro. Be direct with the influencer and say something that amounts to: “It sounds like you have a good grasp of what we do, so if I’ve effectively addressed your concerns then would you feel confident creating a direct introduction between myself and…the decision maker…?” If this doesn’t work, then ask them what else they would need to know before they were able to do so. It may just be a process formality that blocks you from talking to the decision maker at this point.
Ultimately, you have to be an expert in conveying your own message and you have to inspire confidence in your ability to do effectively, with tangentially relevant people. Don’t be lazy and trust anyone other than yourself to do your work for you! The odds are that they won’t convey your message effectively, and this makes talking to the RIGHT person ever more critical!
Say what you mean, mean what you say and say it to the right person.