The following is a guest post by Josiane Chriqui Feigon, author of the new book Smart Selling on the Phone and Online: Inside Sales That Gets Results (AMACOM 2009).
No More to No Power, No Potential
Selling through a downturn means we are faced with more, not less. More objections, more decision-makers, more departments to sell into, more knowledgeable customers, more products to sell, more tools available, more processes to learn, more choices.
According to Miller Heiman’s 2008 Sales Best Practices, there are now 16% more decision-makers involved in the sales process, but fewer who actually hold budget dollars. You would think with so many more decision-makers to contact, the chances of landing on the wrong ones would be minimal. But according to a recent finding by CSO Insights, 22% of deals are lost because of “no decision.” That means salespeople are still hanging out with the wrong people.
It’s getting harder to find the real power in a company, even though both technology and business systems are bombarding us with more data than ever. Today, salespeople are is engaging in extensive pre-call research and coming away equipped with hundreds of people to contact per target company. How can they quickly distinguish who has the power and who are the No-Po’s- these are the ones with No Power, No Potential?
Why We’re Drawn to No-Po’s
Unlike the traditional gatekeepers, these No-Po’s are very knowledgeable and are part of the committee or department. They often hold a prestigious title, such as Manager, Director, Engineer, Administrator, Analyst, or C-Level Executive. Although they earn more than receptionists and executive assistants, they hold roughly the same level of power when it comes to making purchasing decisions.
No-Po’s are hard to resist. After we’ve dialed a hundred outbound calls in a week, with little success, we just want to connect with someone live—it’s easy to find comfort in someone who wants to talk. So we’re happy to get fooled by them. No-Po’s love talking with vendors, and act as though they have power, but they discourage you from talking with anyone else, especially their bosses.
No-Po’s love your product and understand it better than you. They are generous with their time, often asking lots of questions. Soon, you believe the sale is getting closer because No-Po’s invite more people to your conference calls and demos. You may even go so far as to forecast this prospect on your sales report, assuring your manager that you’ll bring in the deal.
Learning to Let Go of No-Po’s
Even after we realize we are talking with a No-Po, it’s hard to let go. We believe that if we just hang in there, they’ll come around. Salespeople, unlike No-Po’s, are loyal. After spending months with a No-Po, we may believe we are “owed” the business. We may truly believe we are helping the No-Po convince their boss to buy. Meanwhile, the salesperson’s forecast has suffered because they haven’t closed the sale.
Steps to Letting Go of Your No-Po
Most No-Po’s aren’t malicious, just uncertain about the boundaries of their own job. No-Po’s often don’t know whether they have power. Talking and making plans with vendors is a way for them to believe they do, so they want vendors to listen and be loyal to them and only them. But sooner or later, you will need to ask yourself some hard questions:
1. Is this person going to help or hurt you in the long run?
2. Is this person really talking about you with the executive team, or should you take matters into your own hands?
3. Maybe this person’s level of influence is uncertain or questionable within their organization. Could that be why they are so protective?
4. Have they been burned by hungry, clumsy, greedy, slimy vendors in the past that caused them trouble?
5. Can you assure them of your loyalty while also setting expectations about having access to a higher level?
Josiane Feigon coined this No-Po concept in her new book, Smart Selling on the Phone and Online–just one of the 10 sales skills Feigon covers in her book. Listen to Josiane’s podcast interview on her book or watch her YouTube Channel and learn about each of the 10 skills in a one-minute video format.
Josiane Feigon is the founder and CEO of TeleSmart Communications. A twenty-year veteran of the industry, Josiane is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on inside sales team and manager talent, providing consulting, coaching and training solutions for hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies, including Cisco, EMC, Microsoft, Autodesk, Hewlett-Packard, and VeriSign. Josiane is the author of the sales blog Cubicle Chronicles and her articles have appeared in Selling Power, Salesopedia, Eyes on Sales and other industry publications.