For many decades, salespeople were taught to find “the” decision-maker, that one person who had the authority to bind a company to a deal. They were taught that they needed to reach the C-suite if they were to create and capture opportunities. Most deals still need an executive sponsor of some kind, and all of them require someone with the authority to bind the company to a deal.
Because we have focused for so long on authority, there has been a tendency for some to believe that other people are not as important to winning a deal, and such, they have not treated the with appropriate respect, preferring to look over the shoulder and up the organizational chart. This is a mistake, and it should be remedied.
Treating people as if they are important is a hedge. The fact of the matter is, you don’t know who has what level of influence within their company, and whose ear they have.
You might believe that someone’s title indicates that they are not necessary to a deal, when that person might be just the person you need to gain access to the person who would most value from what you do.
You might mistakenly be ignoring someone because they don’t appear to have any influence, when they might very well be the person who her peers look to for advice in the area where you can help. You might believe that people who are lower on the organizational chart are somehow less important to winning a deal than people at the higher rungs of the ladder, but to believe this is to make a mistake.
Even though you believe someone may not be integral to winning business, you should treat everyone as if they are important, as though wants and needs are important to you, and you should always consider their needs. You should do this because it’s the right thing to do. But if you don’t believe it’s true, do it anyway as a hedge against behaving in a way that hurts you later.
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