Over the past few years, I’ve interacted with a lot of salespeople in my role as a Sales Development leader.  

Being immersed in the red-hot space of Sales Development, I get pitched on an avalanche of awesome tools, which seem to solve every problem imaginable.

There are so many tools available now it’s mind boggling; I recently heard there are over 2000 applications for the Salesforce platform alone, and don’t even get me started on the “Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic”. Yikes!    

​As a group I like and respect salespeople. After all, I started my career in sales, and I know full well how hard the job is. We’re all in sales, even if we don’t realize it; selling ideas, gaining support, pitching proposals, trying to get your kids to listen to you, etc.  

So, when a salesperson comes to me with a demo for a product I think might help solve a business problem, I generally make the time to check it out.  I’m well aware of my pain points, and am actively seeking solutions out there to solve them.  

As you could imagine, many times during these demos, I realize I’m not the only decision maker on implementing a new tool; I’m one of many decision makers, or sometimes, perhaps only an evaluator.  Occassionaly, I’m a straight up “No-Po”, as any student of the fabulous Josiane Feigon will immediately recognize, as in No-Power, No-Potential, No-Purchase Order.  

Sometimes, but not always, the salespeople pitching me would try to find out who I was in the deal and where I fit in.

That’s a great sales skill, and mapping out the power structure is the beginning of the sales process.  

Also, many times after digging more into the product with the salesperson, I would realize that while it’s beneficial to my department, other people in the organization would have to be sold on the value of it before moving forward.  

If I came to that conclusion, I would try to be helpful in mapping out the organization for the salesperson, giving them invaluable insights into how to navigate the org chart.  
I knew that this knowledge is key to getting things done within organizations, and the best salespeople will leverage this knowledge to make connections with other key people.  
More often than not, I would tell the salesperson who the decision maker is, where they are and even their contact info.  Again, trying to be helpful.  

But then something really weird would happen.  Exactly nothing!  

That’s right. Most of the salespeople I gave this information to did absolutely nothing with it.  I would map out the org chart, letting them know who to call, what they were working on, how they like to work, how this product would benefit them and other factoids.  

And then the salesperson would never make the call. 

More often than not, they would just keep calling and emailing me, wanting to “touch bases” or “check in” or perhaps grab coffee since they were going to be “in town anyways”.  My only reaction is, dude, WTF?  You’re wasting your time and mine.

In my humble opinion, there are two things most salespeople need to work on:

1. Don’t “demo” your products on the first call.  Instead, have just a high level business conversation on the first call to establish who the person is you’re talking to, what their pain points are, and if you might be able to help them. If you can help them, point out specific pieces of your product that would do so. As you progress in the relationship, try to map out the org chart with them, and try to understand who all is involved in a deal like this.  If they insist on seeing a demo in the first few minutes of the call, you might be talking to the wrong person.

​2. If the person you talk to tells you they aren’t the right person and gives you a road map to the org, us the map!  

​This information is more valuable than 1000 cold leads in your database.  Thank them for helping you and go sell the value of your solution to right person.  This information is gold.  

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