The first question asked by those who are new to selling is, “I know the company I want to prospect. Who should I contact first in that company?”
Seasoned sales pros respond to the rookies by saying, the most desirable contact is always, always, always the top decision maker.
So, why is it when asked, “what job title do you call first to schedule a sales call?” our informal research shows the majority of sales professionals start the sales process somewhere other than at the top of the organization.
Sales professionals are all over the board saying they place the first call to individuals they know, have an introduction to; and when pressed to give job titles say they call on the title of district manager, plant manager, finance, administration, vice president of human resources, or vice president of quality. Occasionally a few will approach the chief operating officer chief financial officer and the president.
As strange as it sounds, if your goal really is to talk with the top decision maker your chances of scheduling an appointment on the calendar of the top executive increase dramatically if you call the office of that executive.
Make your first call to the president’s office. Be certain to state that yours is a high-level meeting. If the executive assistant says the president is not the right person for you to meet with, ask the assistant for help and then defer to his or her judgment. For example, “We usually meet with somebody from the president’s office, but you know your company far better than I do, so where would you direct my call?”
If the president’s office is clearly the wrong place for your meeting, you can trust the assistant to direct you to the appropriate senior-level person. If she has time she may even connect you with that person via a three-way call and make introductions. On the other hand if you call the in-house referral on your own state clearly, “Your president’s office said I should be scheduling with you.” This is a strong opening line and high-leverage inside introduction.
Either way, you win. You meet with the president, or your first call becomes a warm introduction from the top of the company.
Does this work? You bet it does-our clients report results of $1-$13 million dollar managed services contracts as they call the top decision maker.
Shoot for the moon-call the president first.