But establishing relationships is relevant only if you build them with the right people from the buyer side. Right people could be thought of as influencers, gatekeepers and decisions-makers.
The influencer is a person who is assessing the solutions for their company, or someone who has close and trusted relationship to the decision-maker. Influencers don’t have budgets or authority to make the decision, but they can impact the outcome.
The gatekeeper is a domain expert. Often company IT guys are gatekeepers as they get to do their technical assessment and can block the decision if they are not happy with it.
The decision maker is then the business guy who has the budget and can make the final decision.
If the party sitting on the other side of the table is none of these then you should just finish up the coffee with her and move on. On the other hand, you do need to cover all influencers, gatekeepers and decision-makers. A single person may be able to block your proposal if they are not covered in your communications.
Depending on what is the role of the person you are dealing with you need to adjust your approach.
Gatekeepers need to feel relevant. Unless accounted for, they may feel they are merely pushed to the side so they will object in principle.
Influencers, on the other hand, can act as positive catalysts getting the good decision done. They need to get excited! But they can also influence otherwise, especially if they have a good relationship with any of the providers, you or your competitor. Get to understand how the dynamics works at your customer organization and build the relationships with the key influencers and gatekeepers as well. And don’t forget that dealing with influencers and gatekeepers only does not get you the deal. You must have good relationship with the actual decision-maker.
Now that you know who the people are to deal with, try doing a bit of roleplaying and put yourself into the role of the party sitting on the other side of the table. If I were that person, would I buy from Me? Figure out what drives their motivations and what levers could be pulled to get them support you. Where do they get their kicks? What are their incentives? What are they afraid of related to your offering? Understanding these will help you in building trust and knowing how to get them on your side.
When you are meeting the right people and have an idea about them, it’s about how you structure the conversation with them. Do not focus on delivering a sales pitch. Instead of one-sided pitching, successful B2B sales people ask a lot of questions from the potential customers which helps in getting information and confirming the things you assumed beforehand on them. Structuring the questions as part of a conversation works well.
Doing all these as a part of my sales approach, I would be much more likely to buy from me.
PS. Feel free to contact me, glad to discuss more about the topic.
Picture credit: Photo by John Baker on Unsplash