In a sales process it is normal to assume that the company structure determines the company decision-making.
But, in reality, quite the reverse is true.
Very often influence is practiced within organisations in very unusual and unexpected ways. The marketing department could be more influential than the sales department for example, or certain individuals could have the ear of the managing director or sales director. The finance department might have to control every unusual expenditure, or have certain criteria to determine what can or can’t be purchased.
Anything is possible!
As a seller, you need to be aware that these informal hierarchies of influence are much more powerful than the formal ones.
But you don’t work there, so how do you know who influences who and how to speak to the right person and say the right things to them?
The answer is to slow down, use the ‘Slow Selling’ sales processes and ask the right questions in the right order to find out the process of making the decision. Who needs to know what, and what criteria will determine what answer is given in the process?
You need to have a formal process that empowers you to ask the right things at the right time. You may need to know things like:
● When will this decision be made?
● Who will have input into it?
● What are the budget criteria?
● Who will be accountable for the outcomes?
● What are the personal agendas?
When you have negotiated your way through this quagmire, you need to clearly agree the accountability and consequences with your client.
How will this service or product be measured, and who will measure it with what criteria?
And how will you ensure that you give your client confidence in that you’ll hold yourself accountable for any consequences of success or failure. It takes guts to make sure that you point out to your customer, and help them hold you accountable for, the consequences of the sales actions. But they will hold you accountable informally anyway, so you need to ensure that you have built this in systemically to the process. This can be achieved through things such as guarantees and follow up.
Do this right and you will develop world-class levels of customer reputation and loyalty, as well as making the sales process easier in the first place. Do this wrong and you run the very real risk of jeopardizing your reputation and destroying customer loyalty at any step throughout the process.
Slow down and get it right for long-term success!
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