Delegating your sales effort to a prospect – How to succeed when you don’t have exec access
The situation: You have an enthusiastic supporter who needs to present your offer to an approving panel of executives or the CEO and for whatever reason, you can’t present to this group/person. What now?A caveat: This post isn’t designed as a cure for not getting executive access during a sales cycle – If you don’t have a sponsor that resides within the political inner circle, then you are behind the 8 ball.. However, it is a common scenario where there are approvers (finance comittee etc) where vendors don’t get access and here is where good deals go bad because an IT team member or operations person flounders due to their inexperience with influencing outcomes and articulating investment rationale to executives.
Don’t send a messenger without giving them the message
When your sponsor tells you that they need to present to the approver(s) next week, don’t be like most people and thank them for the insight and cower in death valley until you hear what happened. Get on the front foot and help your sponsor to deliver an impactful message that will inspire action and deliver the approval that you need.
We know that sales is a profession that takes years of development and experience to become skilled – Don’t let a prospect flounder and fail because you haven’t afforded them the benefit of your sales skills in order to secure the signature (Pro golfers don’t drive to the green and then leave it to the caddy to putt it in). You need to arm your sponsor with a compelling, executive agenda focused business case that can be delivered by anyone.
Conspiring with your sponsor and arming them for battle
When you are told about the meeting, the key is to ensure that you and your contact are psychologically sitting on the same side of the table and can work together to get the right outcome. Follow these steps to get your deals across the line:
1) Express your excitement that as a team you are at the final hurdle and that you would love to help.
2) Ask whether there is a standard format for business case submission or a proposal template that the exec like to see. If they do, jump to (3).
If not, then offer to provide one based on your experience of having done many executive presentations previously. A short format presentation would have the following broad headlines:
Opening slide – Outline of the executive agenda. What are the key strategic drivers/factors that the exec care about, which will be impacted if action is not taken?
Middle slide(s) – Outline the situation and the specific impact it has on the previously stated strategic factors.
Middle/End slides – Solution and how this rectifies the situation
End – Investment requirement and specific next steps.
Almost without exception, a non-salesperson will do a Problem-Solution proposal that has weak approval potential because it doesn’t focus on the impact to strategic factors that executives care about.
3) Offer to review their first draft as a second pair of eyes and provide additional reinforcing proof points or commentary to assist.
The key here is to ensure that your collaborator feels that you are working to assist them, not being self serving.
In closing, you don’t want your sponsor going off half-cocked, so give them the benefit of your sales experience to get the outcome you both want.