Selling at the senior level – no longer just nice to do

Selling at the Senior Level

In major sales the probability of capturing the business is significantly reduced if sales people cannot successfully sell at the senior level. If the competition has that access and you don’t, there is a significant limitation on your ability to differentiate yourself. 

In some situations the first challenge is one of access.  Can you gain access to the right senior person at the right time?  Here, the research is clear and straight foreword.  The two most effective approaches for gaining a meeting with a senior person are a recommendation from inside the organization or a relevant referral from the outside.   

So let’s assume the first challenge – gaining access is accomplished.  What are the success factors for the actual interaction with a senior level manager or senior executive?  Are they the same as calling on anyone else in the organization?  The short answer is yes and no.  Of course there are some similarities.  More importantly; however, there are some distinct differences as to what drives success at the senior level.  

Top performers have shared with us this short profile of best practices for selling at the senior level: 

  • Think of additional corporate resources that would add value to the effort.
  • Have a clear call objective that is appropriate to warrant the involvement of the senior person.
  • Anticipate the concerns of senior people by “getting into their shoes.”
  • Have a clear understanding of their position and relationship with the rest of the organization.
  • Gather information from a variety of internal corporate resources to help prepare for the meeting.
  • Are prepared to engage in a discussion about their company’s go-to-market strategy and future direction.
  • Leverage internal champions to better anticipate the concerns of the senior person.

Check out other posts on sales effectiveness at the Sales Training Connection. 

©2011 Sales Horizons™, LLC

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About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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