How to Get Higher in Your Prospect's Organization
Categories: Sales Discovery Process
Who doesn’t want to get higher in an organization and gain more access to people with discretionary funds? If you feel like you’re consistently selling to the lower rungs of your customers' organizations and your managers are telling you to get higher, you likely need to adjust your sales conversation. Remember, whoever you’re working with in a buyer’s organization is one of many. Selling higher requires you to expand your point of view on the business perspectives of other key players in a buyer’s organization. At the same time, avoiding stalls, losses or delegation requires you to expand your buyer’s point of view on the benefits of an enterprise-level business case, not just a business case for their siloed needs.
Improve your ability to gain access to decision makers higher, wider and deeper in a buyer's organization and make an impact. Here are three common reasons why salespeople sell low and how you can shift your process to sell higher.
1. Not correctly qualifying who you’re working with and who you need to access
Once you get into a buyer’s organization executive effective discovery to understand their influence in their business. Are they a coach, champion, economic buyer, or influencer? If they are lower in the organization — that’s okay. Don’t write off someone just because they’re not a top-tier decision maker. Access in a buyer’s organization is access. It’s what you do with that access that will help you sell higher. Leverage information from who you’re working with right now to propel your deal forward.
When we talk about mapping out a buyer’s organization, we often refer to the “House of the Customer”, meaning the people higher, wider and deeper in a buyer’s business that have a say in the deal or influence in its outcome. When you’re not going higher and wider into this house, you’re going to get stuck in one room and your deal will stall or at best close at a low level.
Solution: Build out the house of the customer
Improve your understanding of the house of your customer. Find out who’s perspectives you are missing and how their perspectives impact your deal’s success (including the long-term adoption of your solution within that account).
Think of the sales conversation or the sales process as a big house, with many rooms and multiple floors. Start to map out the house of your customer for the buying organizations you often work with. In these organizations, identify who often plays a role in the decision process. Each buying organization will differ but work to familiarize yourself with the commonalities between qualified leads. Even map it out for yourself on a PowerPoint slide or paper so you can leverage that knowledge when you navigate future opportunities.
If you sell across different markets or industries, build out a house in each industry based on previous experience. If you’re selling in a new organization, make sure you're validating your view of a buyer's company and the key players with your sales managers or other reps to gain a clearer picture.
Resources to help you elevate this skill set:
- The Decision Process: Everything You Need to Know to Sell More [Article]
- Shifting to Bigger Sales and More Decision Makers [Podcast]
2. Unable to gain access to high-level buyers in an organization:
Once you determine who you’re working with and their level of influence in the buyer’s “house”, use it. Making the ask for an introduction is a delicate conversation. How can you get your buyer to willingly take you to somebody else?
Oftentimes, salespeople can struggle to gain access to critical decision makers because a low-level buyer may say they’re the only decision maker involved. Another challenge when working with someone too low, is often it can be completely unrealistic to ask them to take you to someone with a C-suite office. The key is making sure you are asking for the right introduction and making the case for why.
Solution: Open up your prospect’s point of view on why
As you work to open up your point of view on your buyer’s business, at the same time help your contact build out their own point of view as well. Asking questions like, “Who else owns this problem?” or “Who else will be involved in the solution being implemented?” can help you start the conversation around an introduction to other players in the deal. Next, you’ll need to get them to see the benefit of making that introduction.
The bottom line is you’ve got to get your prospect to come to the conclusion that a competitor (including a do-nothing or do-it-internally decision) won’t solve their problems, or won’t solve them to the extent that yours can.
Then, ensure they understand that if they want your solution to be chosen and used for the foreseeable future, they will need to ensure buy-in on your solution from other departments, to ensure a competitor doesn’t win. We call this buy-in from multiple decision makers the “collective yes”. It’s an important factor for you to consider as you work your way through the sales process and your customer’s buying process. A collective yes involves gaining agreement from multiple players that there is a business and technical case for a solution. A technical buyer may have funding for a “trial”, but if they want to close a long-term contract (that requires premium funding) they will need executive-level agreement.
Helping your buyers understand this nuance will help them see the benefit of making introductions and internally advocating for your solution. Getting them aligned on the value of your solution is vital to capturing a collective yes.
Resources to help you elevate this skill set:
- Helping Buyers Reach Their Own Conclusions [Podcast]
- How to Ask the Right Questions in Your Sales Conversation [Article]
- Selling to More Decision Makers and Getting a Collective Yes [Article]
3. Getting too comfortable
You simply can’t stay comfortable with one, two, or even five decision makers if you want to sell larger deals. Selling higher demands you improve your ability to get in front of decision makers higher, wider and deeper in a buyer's organization and make an impact.
When you find a prospect who’s interested and keeps you up-to-date on internal decisions, you may feel like they're running the deal for you, so you don't need to get in front of anyone else. This overconfidence is where things can go awry. Don’t forget that this person is one of many. If you’re not in control of navigating the decision process with multiple buyers in an organization, two things will happen:
- You will have a difficult time building an enterprise-level business case
- Your competitors will quickly move in and cause havoc for your opportunity
Even if you’re working with an economic buyer, ensuring their sign off demands that you build a business case that’s impactful enough for them to set aside discretionary funds. The only way to drive urgency and big dollars from an economic buyer is to ensure you’re attaching to a complex business problem with company-wide impacts.
Solution: Constantly work to be multithreaded in your opportunities
Closing an enterprise-level opportunity demands salespeople know how to get in front of multiple decision makers and influence their decision process. Your ultimate goal should be to influence each of their specific positive business outcomes, solution requirements, and metrics for success in your favor.
The more awareness and control you have over navigating the decision process with every key player, the better you’ll be able to beat out competition and close high-level contracts. Start by:
- Determining how many decision makers and business influencers you have access to using your knowledge of the house of the customer.
- Executing effective discovery with each different decision maker so you can uncover critical buying criteria and influence it with your solution’s differentiation.
- Aligning your sales activities to each of these decision makers so you can stay in control of when decisions around critical buying criteria are being made.
The more awareness and control you have over navigating the decision process with every decision maker, the better you’ll be able to beat out competition and close high-level contracts.
Resources to help you elevate this skill set:
- Three Questions You Need to Answer For Your Economic Buyer [Podcast]
- Navigating the Decision Process With Multiple Buyers [Podcast]
Improve Your Ability to Sell Higher and Repeat Your Success
Build the mentality and skill set you need to become an elite seller and close premium opportunities, repeatedly. Selling higher and to multiple decision makers takes practice and a constant focus on the fundamentals of great selling. To provide salespeople with a simple way to constantly improve their skill sets, we publish weekly episodes of the Audible-Ready Sales Podcast. Each shares timely best practices and advice from veteran salespeople. Subscribe today on your favorite streaming platform and leverage the insights to make a bigger impact on your current opportunities.