Hubspot's Greg Brown on "Selling To Decision Makers"

This is a very special article written by Greg Brown. Greg is Senior Enterprise Account Executive at HubSpot and according to every manager that he's worked with, it's almost embarrassing how badly he's always blown away his quotas. In his own words...

Why Aren’t You Selling to Decision Makers?

One of the most basic and fundamental truths that all sales people should know is that only the final decision maker can say “yes”.  Everyone else involved in the sales process can only tell you “no”.  So why is it that sales people routinely work through influencers and never actually get to the final decision maker? Are they just being naïve in thinking that their influencer/champion can say “yes” or is it something deeper?

I’m a sales rep and must admit that I’m guilty of not getting to the decision maker all the time. In fact, it happens way more often that I’d care to admit.  I’ve been told from the very beginning of my sales career that I need to get the decision makers on the phone, so I know this is something I need to do.  So why do I, and other sales people, choose not to get the decision maker involved? (yes, it is a choice that we make).  Do we want to prolong the sale process? Do we enjoy the endless “just following up” emails and voicemails we leave for our prospects? Does letting our prospects control the sales process make us feel  better?  The answer is no, but we still do it anyway.

The reason that sales people don’t get to speak with the decision maker is fear. We’re afraid to ruin the relationship we built up with the influencer. We’re afraid that we won’t be able to speak to them on a peer to peer or trusted advisor level. We’re afraid that we’re being out of line and not working with them in a manner that they want to work in. We’re afraid that we might kill the deal by saying something stupid to their boss.  There are many more reasons, but it boils down to fear.

So, how can you make that change and get to the final decision makers? You need to change your mentality and internalize a few things:

  1. You are there to help them solve a problem and do so as quickly as possible.
  2. You are an expert! You know your stuff and can hold your own in any conversation.
  3. You aren’t there to make your influencer look bad.  But in order for you to do your job effectively (see #1), you need to speak with the decision maker.

And what will happen when you start speaking with the decision makers (and doing so earlier on in the process)? Your deals will move forward at a much faster pace, you’ll uncover their true motivations and be able to present a comprehensive solution, you’ll separate yourself from your competitors and win more deals.  

Here are a few ways to enable that conversation:

  • Ask questions of your prospect until they say “I don’t know” and then ask who knows and when can you speak to the person that knows to get those answers.
  • Give them a few options – The prospect can take on the hard job of presenting this information, but the decision maker will likely have follow up questions that they aren’t prepared for. Does the influencer want to spend lots of time playing a grownup’s version of telephone and potentially miscommunicate information? Or would it be easier for everyone if you just had the conversation with the decision maker?
  • If the decision maker is “pushing you down” to the influencer, contact the decision maker to express a concern or ask them about their influencer.  Find a reason to engage them on a peer to peer level, get their buy in and let them know that you’ll work with the influencer but will keep them up-dated.

So,  do you want to get more control over the sales process,  reduce your sales cycle and increase your closing %?  If so, you need to face your fears and get to the decision maker early on.

Topics: Selling, Decision Makers, Overcoming Fear


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