When selling to powerful people you need to pare down the time of personal interaction to the minimum essentials without cutting down on the time spent communicating and in closing the deal. This is the first thing you need to understand about corporate decision makers – they will respond when you allow them to respond according to their convenience and priorities (emails, voice messages). And you need to phase out personal interaction into phases of video/audio conferencing or phone calls, and sessions of actual physical collocation. If you respect the time of powerful people, you stand a better chance of achieving your targets.

So, here are five time-tested strategies for dealing with corporate decision makers

1.    When prospecting, identify and go for those with influence rather than those with authority

Now this might seem difficult to understand at the beginning because you are used to seeing every person in authority as influential. However, may be, you can recount instances where you met people with influence, but who were not in seats of authority? These are the best targets. To get to people with authority, you need to get to people with influence over those who have authority, but who themselves are still in the “achieving” and not “achieved” mode. They have a higher chance of sparing time for you, and you stand a better chance of aligning with them than with the top boss when on your first cold call.

2.    Do not spend time over people who neither have influence, nor have authority, but have a fancy title

The corridors of power are filled with self-important people trying to cash in on their proximity to power, but only a few call the real shots. It is extremely necessary for salespeople to identify these people who position themselves at every entrance of power without possessing either power or influence themselves. These people would eat up your time and destroy your prospects faster than anything else could. They are known to be vindictive, egotists, and false. And they thrive on convincing salespeople that they hold the key to power, and can get them there. Always check track-records, and do thorough research before deciding upon the person to approach within an organization.

3.    How to spot who has buying power or influence

Some things we have seen common in people who have purchasing authority, as also influence, are exceptional communications skills – they always seem to have time, they can do things very quickly and can tell right off what you want to say at the final point; they always seem to know what actually matters, and they are more focused on knowing how much you know about them than your solution – they work a lot on trust and intuition. Thorough sales training is required to deal with such power buyers.

4.    Find C-level executives who are not glorified secretaries

Usually the length of tenure of a C-level executive with a person in authority is a gage of the influence the executive holds, or the information he/she can provide. However, such executives are usually fiercely loyal to their organizations and the maximum you can expect from them are helpful hints and leads. The right way to deal with C-level executives is to treat them as friends and not as secretaries, show them respect, learn their names and ask for help.

5.    Do you have a power buyer leading the sales cycle?

How to know whether you’ve got into contact with the right person or not? Power buyers usually have certain common traits that they exhibit during a sales cycle. In the beginning of the sales cycle, they would get right to the point, make things simple, and provide you with a reference with whom to work. In the mid-sales cycle they would ask you to meet the team and meet responsible people. They’ll usually respond before closing the deal, when they reappear on the scene you know it’s now or never.

People sometimes miss out these things during regular sales training programs within organizations. Some of it comes from assumptions of people in charge of conducting sales training, who may not consider it relevant for newcomers to learn about how to deal with power buyers. Or may think he/she would learn in time. However, in sales, you never know when you come into contact with a person of influence or authority, and this is why these tips from our knowledge of sales training can help you make most of situations.