Weed ‘Em Out

By Steve Atlas

“When contacting a large company with lots of money, remember that there is seldom a single purchasing department that makes all buying decisions for the entire company,” cautions consultant and speaker Julie Jansen. “Even within a single purchasing center there may be several decision makers, as well as influencers, who are well thought of within the organization and can sway the decision making process either positively or negatively.”

Whenever one person in a large company brings you in to sell them something, find out immediately who all the potential players are in the buying process and in the rollout of whatever the products or services are. Jansen advises, “Start developing relationships with each one individually, not just with your key contact. Tell your contact that you are getting to know everyone one-on-one, and why. Find out if the corporate culture supports the changes your product or service will bring, and why or why not.”

Challenges and pitfalls when trying to get into a large company include:

A secretary/administrative assistant may refer you to a person or department (such as a purchasing agent) that you know can’t make the buying decision. Keep persisting with the decision maker but also develop a relationship with the person to whom you’ve been referred. You can never have too many relationships within a large company!

You may know nothing about the buying history or existing relationships the target company has with your competitors. Reach out to your network to find out who has a relationship with anyone in the company. Have that person ask their contact at the company to find out what the situation is in your area.

It may take a long time to set up meetings and wait for decisions to be made. Keep finding reasons to be in front of everyone you know in the company. Send articles; invite them to events; call with business news and gossip.

Shifting priorities within the company can dramatically change the situation. Find out who the decision makers are, beyond your contacts that are influencing the business decision. Constantly coach your contacts about “selling” the idea/benefits of your product or service within the organization.

Jansen offers these additional tips:

Learn about the entire company – its corporate culture, its business initiatives and who their vendors/consultants are in other areas besides yours. Ask questions, read articles and talk to people who have worked with the company.

Narrow down your target list of companies and create a three-month and six-month selling plan for each one.

Remember that it takes three to eight attempts to get an appointment with someone at a large company if you don’t know them.

Find someone who knows the key decision makers.

Learn about your target company’s industry. Read trade publications. Talk to other salespeople who have worked in that industry.

Julie Jansen is a Stamford, Connecticut-based consultant and speaker with 15 years of sales experience. For more information, call Julie at 203/977-2412; e-mail her at julie@juliejansen.net, or visit her Website at www.juliejansen.com.