Chances are that, among the stakeholders you need to engage in the client organization, besides the functional buyers you have to deal with Finance, hence with a CFO, or other Finance Executives.
Chances are that, if your sales operations are similar to many others, to some extent you base your proposal in the technical features of your products and services. This messaging, although accurate and rich in contents, may not be effective when talking to different profiles within the client organization, moreover, it could only be effective when addressing technical profile people, or most likely users of the product or service.
It is frequent however, that technical people and users of the product may not be the decision makers for closing a deal, and it turns out that many selling hours are spent (wasted?) gravitating around these people.
We could generalize and say that gravitating around users is a bad strategy from the sales performance point of view. Let’s be positive and say that it is an incomplete strategy. Besides delivering flashy presentations aimed to overwhelm users, selling professionally implies two basic things: Finding out Who makes the decision, and who has the money.
I may dedicate a full blog entry on Who makes the decision some time, for now, please bear with me on Who has the money: The Procurement Manager.
If you are a sales person, or a sales manager, and you can work your way finding from the users who has the money, and get access to this elusive character, chances are that if you don’t have the right thing to say, you, your offer, and your company won’t get passed the first phone call in a vantage position, that is, you will have no control on the decision made about you.
Here are some hints on how to be prepared for that situation and take the right action.
- Get an appointment: Your goal of the call is not to close a deal, nor to “sell” anything, your goal is to get an appointment.
- Don’t sell. As expected, a Finance Manager does not like to be sold, nor in that first call nor ever. They like, enjoy and are experts in investing where there is an interesting return.
- Don’t make a presentation of features. Your average Finance Executive will NOT know or care about your solution, its fantastic features or versions, scalability and the like. They may be receptive, though, to the conclusions you obtained after engaging other stake-holders, like the functional manager, IT and potential users.
- Ask a lot. You are there not to find out what they think about your solution, you are there to find how your solution is aligned with one of the topics in the priority agenda for this Q.
- Use your prospect’s language and present a Business Case. ROI versus Cost…Percentages, ratios, increases of this, savings on that… All items should be linked to numeric values, and those numeric values should be money. Your way through is an outstanding cost/benefit analysis that actually proves that your solution is a good investment. Basically as good an investment as to make somebody fund it.
- Include a technical profile. Try as hard as you can to bring into the conversation a representative of the user group (this may be tricky: as high in the hierarchy as possible but still literate in the technical side) that will make the case for your solution. If this person validates the items in your solution, and the associated number, you are getting no other thing that an endorsement from the possible (future?) user group, and from within the organization.
- Deliver. When you get to the point to present a proposal to your main buyer, deliver a clean, timely, numbers supported document where the input and insight provided by the Finance Executive are included.