Most sales pros, including yours truly, are constantly telling salespeople to try to initiate contact with the economic buyer. However, sometimes it is better to initiate contact with someone at a lower level. The person that owns the problem, that your product or service impacts, is often a more receptive audience.

Example: If I am the maintenance engineer at a manufacturing plant and responsible for keeping the production line running, then any product or service that helps me do that would be of interest to me. The plant manager, who would be my boss and the economic buyer in this example, may not care because the line never goes down. He doesn’t know all the stress I am under and long hours that I have to put in to maintain the line. Therefore, he would be less interested in speaking with you than I would.If you can get to me and convince me that your product will make my life easier, then I will be motivated to get my boss to listen to you. Sometimes it is better to light a fire low so that the flames creep up.

A real life example occurred when I was trying to sell my services to a university. The president of the university was the economic buyer, and as most economic buyers, had gatekeepers that kept me from personally contacting him. I am sure this has never happened to you.The service that I would render would increase donations from alumni and would directly benefit the athletic department.So I met with the athletic director who needed increased donations to fund his expansion plans for the athletic department. Once I convinced him of the value of my proposal, he had the university president meet with me. And you know the rest of the story…

If you have been trying to penetrate an account and have not been able to get past the gatekeepers, maybe it is time for a new strategy. Identify the owner of the problem and target them instead of the economic buyer, and your results may improve.

Posted in Ray's Rules by Ray Leone on January 5, 2010.