SALES TIPS FROM STRONG CLOSER READERS
Who Can Say Yes? Who Can Say No?
You think you know who the decision-maker is. But watch out for hidden people who might have strong reasons why they don’t want the change you are proposing to make.
I was taught that the most important person to focus on in any sale is the true decision-maker. In other words, don’t waste your time on someone who doesn’t have the power to say “Yes.” This is true, to a point, but I have also learned not to ignore people who have the power to say “No.”
I learned this the hard way while selling billing and accounting services for independent insurance agencies. My target, of course, was the owner of the agency. This is the person who would directly benefit from a system that reduced outstanding receivables and improved other aspects of profitability. What I missed at first, though, was the role of the bookkeeper. She was the person who was making the old accounting system work, and she derived much of her power in the agency by making old technology work.
Bookkeepers often resist technology changes, because it means that a big chunk of their expertise – and thus their power – will be lost. When I failed to sell to the bookkeepers, they often tried to undermine my sale by pointing out minor deficiencies to the decision maker.
Now I always sell to both the decision maker and the bookkeeper. With the bookkeeper, I overcome her resistance by promising to give her the “inside secrets” on how to make the new system really powerful, and I can explain that the improved reporting in my system will make her role in the agency even more important. She still may prefer her old way of doing things, but I find I get a lot less internal resistance from this “No-sayer” when I remember to sell to her needs as well as those of the real buyer.
M. Cohen, Toronto, Ont. Canada