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Going Over your Current Contact’s Head

This is a follow up to the Blog about Why Sales People Don’t Call High and the number one reason I hear from sales people for not calling high is that they don’t want to upset their current contact. So let’s think about this.

Why don’t sales people want to go over their current contact’s head? I think it comes down to fear – fear of the unknown, fear of upsetting the person, fear of upsetting the relationship and fear of dealing with a more senior person. In fact, there is no clear answer as every case is different and it comes down to a judgment call. If you are taking £1m out of the account every year – would you risk it? If you are taking £5k and you can see projects you are being blocked from – why not?

When I worked for a particularly aggressive comms company, we would use the phrase “burn them” – you called higher, won more business or lost the account and focused your energies elsewhere. The interesting thing about this for me is what actually happens in reality in 90% of the cases. What do you think, how does the relationship with the current contact develop?

Well, my experience is once you have called higher you free yourself from the shackles of being keep in the dark. Your current contact wanted to keep you in their control, but now you have a route to their boss and access to information and power they cannot control.  The balance of power changes in your relationship and business often improves.

Some techniques that you can use to approach the current contact about going higher include:

  • Using your boss to engineer the contact (my boss/your boss)
  • There’s a campaign to sell X, which is outside the current contact’s remit
  • Marketing are running a “one level higher” campaign and we have to do it in all our accounts

One final quote that I have heard is “It is easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission” – so you go do it and tell your contact later.  My preference is to forewarn my contact and ask them to help me to get access.  Let me know how you go about calling higher.
This entry was written by John, posted on April 22, 2010 at 5:18 pm, filed under Executive Selling and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

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