While selling into large organisations, have you ever wondered if the person you are dealing with is wasting your time?

You keep calling them and they are willing to speak and meet with you.

So it must be going somewhere right?

And here is my typical MBA-learnt response: It depends!

A prospect can be wasting your time for any number of reasons:

  • They believe in your offering but don’t have authority or power within the organisation to purchase.
  • They are interested in something you have to offer, such as industry intelligence, free things from your company (product samples, lunches, coffee etc) or your fantastic looks? (just kidding on the last one)
  • Your lack of leadership with the client is creating no value for either party.
Over the past 16 years in enterprise/government sales there have been some sales that have come through nurturing relationships to demonstrate credibility and others have been a huge waste of time.
How can you tell if a particular prospect is worth your investment of time?
Consider the following questions:
  1. Do they understand the value of my offering to their organisation?
  2. Are they able to articulate this “value” to their colleagues and get their buy-in?
  3. Even if they are not managerial, do they have “authority” within the organisation?
  4. How does the organisation make decisions? Is it top down (if that’s the case, if you are not dealing with the CEO you are wasting your time). Or are the decisions made in a consultative way? (The CEO asks his/her management team to investigate and report/recommend next steps).
Okay so I’m wasting my time with this contact, what do I do now? Consider the following:
  • Disconnect with the contact and organisation completely. This has minimal impact. Does not offend anyone. The downside is that you are abandoning a good potential client.
  • Ask your contact to introduce you to someone else within the organisation. This is a politically tricky move. You risk offending your contact because it openly indicates they are not providing what you need.
  • Completely go above your contact! Be bold and go to the most senior person you can find.
When I was about to turn 40 I realised I needed to be bold and take the third option more regularly.
As a sales person you need to be a provocateur – a little like James Bond.
In the end if you stay with your original contact – nothing will happen.
Life is short. And the pace of business these days means that your original contact may never realise that you went above their head.
So I took my own advice and started going above people who were wasting my time.
Did it work?
Did I experience any backlash? 
None whatsoever.
So if you find yourself being stuck in the weeds, go above their heads and inject a bit more excitement into your life.