Previously, we looked at how important it is to beware of talk traps. Now let’s examine the first big step you must take to avoid those costly pitfalls that kill your time and sink deals: learn how to connect with all the right people in your buyer’s decision-making process.
The fastest way to your next sale isn’t found by simply connecting with a single decision-maker in a targeted organization. There’s a better way. And it’s one that every top-ranked seller I know in the marketplace today employs masterfully in their work.
Identify all the influencers in the organization you want to sell to, and then connect with them all—both skillfully and relentlessly.
Influencers are in close proximity to decision-makers and there are up to eleven of them in each organization you’re trying to sell to right now. While not every business has all eleven, you can be sure that every business has more than one…always. Influencers are often in non-executive positions and work in all areas of the business. Some are in sales, delivery, or accounting, while others are also installers, trainers, or work in phone support. Additionally, some influencers are on the legal team, are consultants, or they work in procurement and tech support.
Who the influencer is in a given situation depends on what you are trying to sell and who it affects in the organization. A complete list of influencers will reflect the stakeholders in your project.
Because of what they do, what they know, and who they work with, influencers get listened to. And that means as a seller, you cannot afford to overlook them. If you do, it’s likely a key factor behind why you keep coming up short on successfully closing more deals in less time.
Here are four ways to spot your influencers and create deep rapport with them.
Bring meaningful insight—Influencers each have a stake in the success of the company where they work and are directly affected by the purchasing choices of decision-makers. That’s why they’re very open to discussing well-rounded perspectives about the challenges in their business, including new solutions to solving those challenges. Do your research: find new facts, solutions, approaches and case studies that will help them do their jobs better while supporting your solution.
Ask “who cares?”—Every major feature of a product you’re trying to sell must have a tangible benefit that brings a return on investment to a specific influencer. For instance, if your product boosts fuel economy, find ways to highlight this benefit and showcase their savings in real dollars specifically for their work. For an influencer in the shipping department, it would mean fewer trucks have to be put on the road. For someone in finance, make a case for how it means better profitability. For someone in the risk management group, show how fewer stops for fuel means less potential for theft of company cargo or its vehicles.
Pick engagement-friendly questions—When you’re having a conversation with an influencer, don’t just ask general questions about the work they do, or what they struggle with most days in their work. Ask expansion questions that give you the opportunity to engage with more people in that organization. For instance, if your contact makes mention of the IT group within their organization, ask them how IT is affected by the issues you are discussing and if they could arrange to introduce you to some of the people who work there. Always be building your network using word-of-mouth as your fuel.
Connect to the influencers, then connect the dots—One of the most important skills to hone is the ability to make dynamic connections between large groups of people. For this, social media is your power tool. LinkedIn is especially effective in providing a bird’s eye view of your customer’s complete organization structure—all just from connecting with one influencer within that business.
When you know all of the influencers, you close more deals. You steer clear of those costly talk traps that devour your time and give you nothing in return.
Instead, you connect with those who make more sales happen. You show you understand what matters to those influencers and give them useful material that helps them do their work more effectively. Just as important, the faster you build your network of influencers, the sooner you’ll gain multiple contact points, so you’ll no longer be dependent on just one person in a target organization.