Monthly Archives: May 2017

C-Suite Selling: Identifying the Ultimate Decision-Maker

C-Suite Selling: Identifying the Ultimate Decision-Maker

Sometime it’s tough to know who actually makes the final decision. Well, the person responsible for profit and loss (P/L leader) is the ultimate decision-maker for anything of consequence in his or her domain.  This person can be a CEO or a General Manager or a Plant Manager, or a Product-line Manager, or another title.  But profit and loss are the keywords.  Ask, “Who ultimately takes the hit if things go south?” These P/L leaders are very easy to identify.  Just ask anyone or check the internet.

Other C-Suiters, CFOs, COOs, etc. have approval limits on approved budgets and spending limits so sometimes they can be the ultimate. So it can be confusing or a mystery.  Additionally top executives are shielded by many subordinates who want to keep you away for their own reasons, and usually play dress-up and declare themselves the final decision-maker. So be very skeptical and don’t suck into their reasons why there is no need for you to seek higher echelons.

Therefore if you keep reading, I will give some good indicators and ways to verify who it really is.

The Ultimate Decision Goes to the C-Suite or P/L Leader’s Office

  • Significant impact on the company; health insurance, large expenditure, change in product or operation
  • Capital appropriations are approved by the P/L leader and then the CEO of the larger corporation.
  • Non-budgeted expenditures that can’t be squeezed into someone’s approved budget are always approved by the P/L leader or higher.
  •  Large Expenses: My rule; anything over $10,000 gets kissed-off by the P/L leader.  Smaller expenses against approved capital projects or against approved operational or product budgets can be made at subordinate or C-levels.
  • Product or operational changes: These can have big impacts to company – P/L leader
  • Impact on employees: Keeping them happy is critical to company success – P/L leader
  • Multiple departments impacted – Someone has to corral the cats – P/L leader
  • Big dollar renewable contracts; maintenance services, healthcare, product components, shippers, etc. – P/L leader.  Keep in mind large multi-divisional companies with my P/L centers can have corporate contracts and who approves those negotiation can be confusing.  But the final contract approvals are blessed in the C-Suite.

Verifying Your Insight or Hunches

  1. Use your Golden Network – Those workers in your company who interface with your customer – technicians, engineers, servicer, and customer service.  These people have credibility and access to contacts who know.
  2. Who made the final decision on past purchases: your own, your competitors’. Reach out to other vendors of complementary or similar impact type sales and ask.
  3. Ask your contacts, “Other than yourself, who else will be involved?” or “Who will make the final decision?” or “Who suggested a committee?” or “Who selected the committee?” or “Who will decides if the committee or others have differences of opinion?” or …. Something similar.
  4. Have multiple ports of entry – ask all your contacts the same questions.  You should be talking with all the influential subordinates and bosses. Short circuits cause losses.
  5. Ask yourself and others – “Will the person who says, or other indicate, is the final approver, talk to someone/s higher-up before making the decision?  Ya’ know – just to bounce it off?”  Well, that bounce off-er is the final final.  And that feedback can be very subtle, i.e. “Well, they wouldn’t be my first choice, but it’s your call.”  That little jab will kill your deal.

Hopefully you won’t have to exhausted this list to determine who it is. But, it should give you good guidance to uncover accurately who will make the ultimate decision.

And now I invite you to learn more.

Bonus Tip:  FREE E-Books – Getting Pasts Gatekeepers,

Learn how avoid alienating your contacts and get past gate keepers to engage and win-over the ultimate decision maker.





How to win proposals

How to win proposals

You can beat your competitors (even if you are new in the business) if you know the art of preparing winning proposals. The prospects usually send a formal document called a Request for Proposal (RFP) that includes all the specs. You need to submit a proposal in response that reflects your ability to meet the requirements.

These tips will help you prepare winning proposals.

Have you had prior meetings?

If this is the first time you’re seeing this proposal, walk away.  That’s right, leave it.  Your best chances of winning it are 1 divided by the number of competitors.  So if 3 are bidding including you, your best chance is 33%.  I say best because one or more of your competitors has had prior meetings and may have even helped prepare the RFP.  If that’s the case, your chances have even decreased substantially from 33%.  Now in my world 70% plus is my closing ratio.  So anything less than this is taboo.

If you are working your relationships, you should know this RFP is coming and hopefully, you’ve help write it.  You will have met with all the influencers and key decision-makers, especially the ultimate, final authority, and learned what it will take to win his or her vote.

Now you may think this is ridiculous to do, but if you are managing your territory, this is how it’s done to win 70% plus of the times you bid.

Think of what you spend, time, money, other resources to prepare a bid.  Once you start gauging these costs against your winning percentages, you’ll see that bidding an unknown is a waste.  You’d be far more successful spending that time, money and other resources to be out in your territory developing relationships that let you know what’s coming down the pike.

Is this you kind of customer?

What is your ideal customer profile? That is, what are the soft characteristics that define the types of customers that are good for you and easy for you to close?  You probably have hard characteristics, such as dollar revenue, number of employees, type of business, etc.  But the soft are more like, do you have access to the top people and other influencers; are they communicators – talk and listen – give you critical information and open to your ideas; are they doing well and believe it; do they have the money and are willing to spend it; etc.  So if you don’t have specific soft criteria, you have to go through an exercise to establish them.  Then gauge how well this RFP sender matches your criteria – the closer the fit, the better your chances.


How well does it match your strengths?

There are certain projects where you excel and some are real losers for you.  For example, I am good at sales training, but C-level sales training is where I really excel.  So competing for training new sales people would be a project where competitors are better equipped and far more competitive.  So I tend to stay away from them.  Now if a good customer asks me to bid on a big new sales people training contract against other competitors, I will submit a courtesy bid – one that is legitimate, but put together with minimal effort – to respect our relationship.

Now you probably already have criteria for types of projects that are really good for you on the project side (not customer characteristics).  If not, you need to develop them. Then gauge how well this RFP sender matches your criteria – the closer the fit, the better your chances.

So if this project is in your wheel house, then go after it.  If not, spend your time looking for those that are.

Create your Go, No-Go Matrix

The x-axis is for the quality rating of your customer.  Rate each soft characteristic from -5 to +5 – no zeros. You must take a stand.  If you have 5 characteristics add up the score.  What is your total our of a possible -25 to +25, which by the way is the range of your x-axis.

Now do the same for your type of customer.  Gauge each one, add it up.

Now see where the score for each set of criteria lands and decide what to do.


Conclusion: A lot of sales representatives close the deal solely through choosing the right proposals to bid on.  Make sure to bid on only proposals where you’ve had prior meetings and those that fit your profile. You can contact Sam Manfer from Sales Mastery Institute to help you close more deals. Click here to know more.

Major mistakes in B2B selling

Major mistakes in B2B selling

The stakes are high in B2B selling and even a small mistake can prove to be disastrous.B2B is not just about telling what’s great about your product or service. It’s a blend of multiple strategies that ensure the prospects get attracted towards what are you are offering.

Through this blog post, we discuss the mistakes you should avoid while connecting with your prospects.

Not asking multiple questions

Ask the prospect about his/her, challenges, and frustrations as it relates to your solution portfolio. Your solution portfolio is all the benefits your products and services can provide to help this type of business.  You must offer the ones that are of priority to the person you are talking with.  If there are multiple people, you’ll probably be offering different benefits to the different people.  One size does not fit all.  Only this approach will help you prepare solutions that that suits each decision-maker to win his or her vote.

Make sure to ask questions until you understand your prospect fully.   This is not about the company, even though you think it should be or you think s/he should think it should be.  It is about the person and his or her issues, desires and priorities as it relates to the company.

Overselling – Pushing your product

Overselling is a misused word.  Selling is all about learning the problems of the individuals, fitting your solutions/offers to resolve those problems – better than any alternative, testing for agreement, handling objections and attaining commitment.

The part that most associate with overselling is fitting your solution when you don’t know the problem – sort of “ready, fire, aim.”  Most assume they know what the problems are because that’s what most in the same industry and even the same company have.  But people are different.  Everyone has his or her own spin on a problem or desire.  Everyone has his or her own priorities.

So the term overselling really means over-assuming.  That is, suggesting you know what the person is thinking and wanting.  Then telling him you have it and he should buy it.

No doubt learning about the product comprehensively is a good thing. But, more often than not, the sales professionals try to convey all the information during the first point of contact with the client. The prospects will rarely show an interest until you first help them realize you understand their particular situation. Then funnel all your product knowledge to fit his particular situation and leave out the parts that don’t.

Make sure to grab your prospect’s attention

The best attention getter is to make your opening all about the prospect.  Executives love to talk about themselves and their problems once you get them going.  So start your emails, phone calls, etc. with “you” or “your”.  Keep asking them about them self, not about his company or her mission or her objectives.  For example, ask about what she’d like that she doesn’t have as it relates to her business.  This will engage her and build your credibility and knowledge of what you  might have that she wants.

Failing to present the value proposition

The only meaningful value proposition to an individual is the proposition that has value for the individual.  So make sure your presentation is focused on what this individual wants.  Then show you can deliver it better than any other alternative with minimum risk of failure, and maximum probability of success.

At the end of the day, prospects want to know if spending time and effort on implementing your product is worth it or not to him or her. They don’t care if you have the best technology in the industry unless it will give him or her what s/he desires.

Conclusion: If you or your team members don’t commit these errors, it means you are on the right path. To know more about the C-level, investigative, sales training seminars offered by Sam Manfer,