Is Your Inside Sales Team Married To The “Top-Down” Sales Approach?
I was recently reading a comment posted on Linkedin that really caught my attention. The comment was in response to a question about how to get through gatekeepers in order to get in touch with executive level contacts. One of the responses stated, “If the gatekeeper won’t put you through to the CTO then move on from that organization and call into others – there’s a million of them.” My first thought after I read that (aside from, wow that guy is lazy) was who said we have to follow the top-down sales approach? While getting to the ultimate decision maker is crucial to closing business, doing the leg work of calling around an organization to learn as much as possible is equally as important.
Some of you may disagree with me on my statements above, so hear me out and read why I truly believe that the top-down sales approach is not the end-all, be-all when it comes to inside sales and why the efforts of calling around an organization are crucial to your success.
First of all, the top level executives aren’t always the ones feeling the pain, so they’ll be more likely to brush you off when receiving your phone call. Therefore, it’s crucial to not only call the top level contact, but also call at least three other individuals within the organization. If you were to follow the mindset of the gentleman I described above, you’d miss out on a lot of great opportunities. If you can’t get to the final decision maker, it doesn’t mean the company isn’t interested – there are plenty of other individuals to call in order to gain some interest and traction within the organization. The prospects really feeling the pain and challenges of their current processes are the ones that are seeing it day in and day out, and odds are that top level executives may not always be aware of the time lost due to the manual processes in place. For instance, if you call an IT Manager or a Database administrator, they will inform you of all the challenges they are experiencing every day that is taking them away from other revenue generating tasks that they could be focused on. How useful would it be for you to share these specifics with the CTO or VP of IT via email and with a follow up voicemail in the case you aren’t able to get them live? You can’t tell me that the CTO would ignore specific messaging about how his company is losing valuable time and money due to the existing processes in place. Even if he/she didn’t have the funds available immediately, it would at least put the bug in their ear to start thinking about fixing the issue. And whose information will they have readily available when the timing is right, yours!
Aside from uncovering the pains and needs that the top level executive doesn’t necessarily know about, calling around the organization to lower level contacts can get you the business intelligence you need to market appropriately to the decision makers in the future. If you speak with a lower level person about their current technology in place, it will give you the market intelligence that your sales and marketing teams can use for future campaigns. Finding out what companies have in place currently and when their next re-evaluation period begins can be extremely valuable when it comes to marketing to these companies, and by having this information, you’ll be ahead of the game when they do start to evaluate solutions.
If you want to start with the highest contact at an organization, that’s fine, as long as you also add three or more additional contacts to your call rotation at the same time. You’ll be able to collect crucial information about the account that cannot only be useful once you do get in front of the ultimate decision maker, but it also gives you the ability to provide some very valuable information to sales and marketing. So, are you and your inside team married to the top down approach, or are you willing to test the waters by expanding your reach to other contacts?