Three separate, but related, incidents occurred this week, all having to do with reaching decision makers.

First, I received a cold call that went like this:

"Hi Mr. Kurlan, this is [name withheld] from [huge company name withheld]. We're a company that.....oh no - the script disappeared from my computer. I...I...can't talk to you without following the script.  Bye."

First off, the Mr. Kurlan thing is like fingernails on a chalkboard - I can't stand it and never will.  

Second, the Mr. Kurlan thing again.  Before he says another word it tells me that he doesn't know me.  If he did he would call me Dave.

Third, the Mr. Kurlan thing yet again.  It tells me that he doesn't think he is at the same level as me, shouldn't really be talking with me and can't speak my language.

I don't even have to provide commentary about what happened with his computer and script. I do know that there isn't a CEO anywhere that would have listened for even 5 seconds if he had started reading from a script!

Incident Number two:

 I was asked about a salesperson at a client's company.  The Sales Candidate Assessment predicted that he would have difficulty calling on Senior Executives and, of course, he was struggling.  When asked what they could tell him, I said this:

  1. Intellectually, he needs to know how crucial this is for his success.
  2. Conceptually, he needs to know that he can reach senior decision makers.
  3. Belief-wise, he needs to know he belongs with senior decision makers.
  4. Practically speaking, he needs to learn the strategies and tactics for how to consistently reach senior decision makers.

Incident number three:

I received the results of a survey conducted by the cloud-based, business presentation company, Brainshark, Inc.  

The survey reported that salespeople were frustrated by the following presentation challenges as it related to decision makers:

  • Key decision-makers absent from the room (50%), 
  • Unresponsive/difficult-to-reach prospects (55%)
  • Not knowing who else is influencing purchasing decisions (49%)

So here we are again, with half of the salespeople reporting that they aren't reaching decision makers.  And why would a decision maker want to be reached if the salespeople are focused only on presentations?  Executives wonder why their sales cycles are so long, their closing percentages are so low and their margins are slip sliding away...that will continue to be the rule and not the exception, until salespeople bring meaningful conversations and value directly to decision makers.

When it comes to salespeople believing, reaching, acting appropriately and speaking the language of senior decision makers, it is very ugly out there.  Objective Management Group’s statistics show that a whopping 68% of salespeople struggle to reach decision makers.

How do you measure up?

About the Author:

6a01a3fcc1b98e970b01a73d7cc319970d-120siDave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, the best-selling author of Baseline Selling, and a leading expert on Sales Force Development. He is the founder and CEO of Objective Management Group, Inc., the leading developer of sales assessment tools. He is also the CEO of Kurlan & Associates, Inc., a leading sales force development firm. He possesses more than 30 years of experience in all facets of sales development including sales and sales management training, consulting, infrastructure, leadership, recruiting and coaching.

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