As my friend and business associate knows, the snarky title of this post is said with a smile… He IS, however, a little off on his reasoning in a recent post of his own. He begins by saying,
“Engaged in friendly, spirited banter with a business associate the other day. We had just returned from a trade show radio gig, and had 50 radio interviews with CEOs to edit. Naturally, we split the batch in half.
And naturally, we each named and organized our respective batch of files differently.
My associate? Named the files according to the company name. Me? I did it based on the name of the person interviewed.”
He goes on to make a case for keeping a laser-beam focus on the individual person you’re selling to vs. that person’s employer. Yes, I agree that establishing and nurturing one-to-one relationships is vital. Focusing only on the individual, though, is a recipe for repetitious disaster. The whole notion of “decision-maker” is pretty much dead. The days of clearly drawn corporate silos and individual fiefdoms are over.
As sales professionals, we must sell to the “decision network,” the whole company.
For example, assume you’re selling widget washers. You go to Norman, the VP of Maintenance at [COMPANY], and demonstrate how with your washers, the job gets done in half the time. Knocks $1,000 a month off maintenance expenses, has a payback period of 6 months and an ROI of 112%. Done deal! Congratulations! Your widget washers are installed and you and Norman enjoy a few adult beverages to celebrate. Ain’t it great to make your customer look good?
Two months later Harvey, the VP Manufacturing at [COMPANY], notes that widget production is off by almost 8%. Widget demand – as always – is high. If Allison, the VP of Sales at [COMPANY], had that 8% more widgets to sell, she could deliver an additional $10,000 per month in profit.
Jill, the CEO of [COMPANY] finds out and goes ballistic. Who’s the moron who changed the widget washing equipment? Didn’t that knucklehead realize that shutting down the production line to wait for the washer fluid to evaporate would drastically reduce output? “You mean he actually changed the widget washers (that I personally designed ten years ago) to shave a few measly bucks off the maintenance budget?” she roars.
As you help Norman update his resume, you might want to consider how vital it is to relentlessly maintain a holistic view of your customer’s entire company. An individual perspective simply doesn’t cut the mustard.