This inability to sell to the right person, can lose one a job at an interview or a pitch to a panel.

If you don’t prospect, you (professionally) die.

Prospecting is the never-ending search for potential buyers for your product. When you prospect, you ensure you are selling to the right person. But it first starts by identifying who that buyer is. And it can get complicated when you consider that the user is not always the buyer. And the buyer, is not necessarily the decision-maker. Also, you might never see this decision maker because of a gatekeeper. Confused? Let me illuminate with illustrations.

“No one is agreeing to even admit they need, let alone buy these adult pampers,” the frustrated salesperson lamented sympathetically. “And I can understand why. They’ll be stigmatized, and so they’re too embarrassed to ask for them.” It is the rare adult suffering incontinence that will agree to wear a diaper. Yet this user is the prospect. But is the seller selling to the right person? Progressive sellers, however, identify the influencer daughter or son, that can get through the adult parent, and who likely is also the buyer, and sell to them.

Selling to the right person in B2B selling

In the business-to-business sale, this prospecting maze can be even more confusing. “I’m here to see the Chief Financial Officer,” the proud bank relationship manager dismissively tells the receptionist (a gatekeeper) at the hotel lobby, as he bypasses her on his way to sell the CFO his bank’s PDQ machine.

The CFO, a decision-maker, agrees for that bank’s PDQ to be installed. But the user is the hotel guest making card payments at the reception where the machine will sit; and at the point of payment the receptionist is no longer a ‘lowly’ gatekeeper but powerful influencer dictating which of the competing PDQs to present to the guest. So tail between his legs, the seller must eat humble pie with the receptionist, if any sale is to happen on his PDQ. All this because he failed to sell to the right person. Or persons.

Identifying the right person to sell to

This inability to identify the types of buyers present can lose one a job at an interview or a pitch to a panel. This interviewee was told by an insider why he did not progress to the next level of interviews despite obviously being exactly what the prospective employer sought. “As you pitched, you focused only on the CEO (decision maker). Worse, you totally ignored the other two gentlemen in the boardroom. They were not there for the fun of it. One has the CEO’s ear (an influencer) and he dismissed you are arrogant. The CEO agreed.”

Progressive medical representatives (med reps) know that as sure as the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, the way to a doctor (decision maker) is through his nurse (gatekeeper and influencer); the nurse can ease or complicate access to a doctor, as much as she can (or not) divulge insider information to favourably fuel the med reps pitch. So, the med rep keeps her happy with promotional freebies. And why? Pharmaceutical companies know that whereas the patient is the user of their drug, the doctor is the one who influences and decides its purchase through a prescription.

Critically analyse your sales process to correctly identify and address your prospect(s).


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