Don’t Call The ‘Underlings’…

If you are NOT cold calling at the executive level within a company these days, you are wasting your time. Need I say more?
To explain what I mean, let me take you back to the late 90s when things were different. I remember selling technology to the financial services industry before the Y2K fiasco, and when the bubble popped. It was like fishing in a barrel. Middle managers had the budget authority to buy whatever technology they wanted. If you weren’t making your number back in the ‘hay-day’, there was something wrong with you. Just about anyone within the enterprise had the authority to buy something.
All that changed following the collapse in March 2000. Suddenly, all the middle managers that once had the money, and the authority to spend it, vanished into thin air. Some salespeople continued to call on them anyway.
Those Darn ‘Underlings’
Since 9/11, the Iraq War in 03′, and certainly since the financial collapse of 2008, ‘Underlings’ are indeed the major obstacle to getting your foot in the door, and closing new business in 2012. I can’t think of any one business today that is placing financial decisions in the hands of middle managers, or ‘underlings’. These days, each and every decision has to go up the ladder for senior management approval. These days you have to start at the top!
Start at the Top
What in the world are you afraid of? Most salespeople call at a level within a company that is in line with how they see themselves conceptually. If you feel like an office manager, then you’ll call on other office managers.
The perception most salespeople have of the president, or any other high level executive is that they are harsh individuals, impatient, and have the potential to overpower you with their might. This is patently false. Over the years I have had more intelligent, and productive conversations with presidents and senior executives as opposed to middle managers. My theory is that middle managers are routine ‘naysayers’ because they could care less about the company they work for. When it comes to doing the job, ‘underlings’ do just enough so they won’t get fired, and earn just enough so they won’t quit. The days of employee ‘company pride’ are long gone.
On the other hand, senior executives are focused on the overall health of their company, and the value to shareholders. That’s what makes a call to a chief executive more productive, and more profitable.
What to do…
In order to be successful calling on senior executives you have to change your way of thinking, and the way you speak. Senior executives are competent communicators, and getting their attention requires you to get to the point quickly. Quick sound bytes that describe in simple terms the nature of your business, and the purpose of your call, usually work best. State the facts, and leave that sales pitch at home. When you have a clear and concise message, and carry yourself with an air of confidence, you give birth to ‘peer-level’ conversations that get you taken seriously by senior management, and in the door to meet with them.
Take a close look at the call script you use for making sales calls. Don’t have a written script? Well, that’s your first problem. Don’t ‘wing it’ when talking to senior executives. You’re liable to lose your place, talk too much, and sound like an amateur. It only takes an instant for a senior executive to pick up on this. Instead, think about the problem you solve, and who you solve it for. Now get that thought into a simple ‘attention-grabbing’ statement that cuts to the chase with senior executives. Do that, and you’ll find that presidents and senior executives are by far the easiest people to call on, and are far more willing to give you your ‘day in court’ than the ‘underlings’ who can’t even buy paper towels.


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One Response to “Don’t Call The ‘Underlings’…”

  1. MadCapCampaign Says:

    This is good advice, however i think many underlings are looking for the next big sell so that they can move up the ladder.

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