Non-decision makers are the people who might love you and want to buy from you but their hands are tied. There are two reasons I can think of why you’d ever have to sell to a non-decision maker. One is when you simply can’t get to them, ie. your contact won’t grant you access to their boss until they vet you. The other is when you’re at a diversity procurement conference where the direct decision maker for what you sell isn’t there and you’re pitching to a non-decision maker diversity officer.
Decision Makers Rule
The reason it’s such a big deal to sell to decision makers is that the sales happen faster. The cycles are shorter, it’s easier to overcome objections of people who are actually in the room (as opposed to letting someone else like a junior staff sell you to their boss.) The benefits are literally endless. So how do you get them to be there? Easy- simply ask your contacts who set up the meeting this question: “who else needs to be there who will be involved with the decision of this purchase/issue?”. You can even refuse to pitch or to send a written proposal if the true decision makers are not willing to meet. The last resort is the subject of this article…selling to Non-Decision Makers. Here’s how you do it if you absolutely have to.
Prior Meeting Prep
Make a list of the names of the people who are your acutal buyers at that company you’re targeting or meeting with. Next, arm yourself with the industry’s and company’s exact expensive and persistent pain that you can help with. Proper research and preparation is most of the battle.
Once you find out the big hairy pain you can help them with, create a document or information of value that helps solve this problem. For example, this could be a trends report, a tip sheet, an infographic, a video, an article, a webinar, an analysis or assessment. The sky is the limit.
Make it Memorable
Once you have your education piece that will add value to your target industry, put it on or around something that’s connected to the message, but that will make it memorable. It doesn’t have to be expensive or flashy or even useful. Think of the iconic Easy Button for Stables and how many people have bought this useless thing as a toy. It conveys the Staples’ key core message that it’s effortless to shop there. Some examples of what clients and I have come up with: sending a tip sheet attached to a fake brick with the tip sheet titled “Brick and Mortal Retail Store Rescue Report”. Another is an infographic via a QR code titles “How to Source Back up supplies After the Pandemic” attached to a kid’s life-saving float ring. Let your creativity fly here.
Now the real homework is to contact each of the actual decision maker buyers through any means (buy their phone number on online portals, email, send voice or video messages through LinkedIn etc.) to leave messages about how you have this resource of value about their topic of pain. Tell them that you’ll be seeing their colleague (the non decision-maker) in an upcoming meeting and that you’ll be passing it along to them that way. Tell them to look out for it. Then tell the non-decision maker that you’ve contacted the decision maker and that they are expecting this resource (the hook-gift) that you’ll be sending.
The rubber hits the road in follow up if you don’t get a bite from the decision-maker by deploying this strategy. So think of other vehicles and ways of messaging the same decision maker to let them know you are still in the game. As in any account-based-marketing campaign, be bold, be unique and be visible in their world. Over and over again.
If you want to stop showing up and throwing up at meetings with non-decision makers, hoping and praying for the next steps to materialize, heed my advice and try the hook-gift approach instead. There’s nothing decision makers love more than having suppliers come to them with imaginative and really useful solutions to their problems. It’s a win-win.
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