Finding H.E.R.B. – Not Easy – But Worth It!
Way back in 1602, Shakespeare wrote, “To be or not to be: that is the question.” In today’s sales environment we say, “To go high or go low: that is the question.” Let’s look at some predictable responses we hear when asking for a sale:
- “I need to run this by John before I can make a decision.”
- “I was instructed to get three quotes before making a decision. I’ll get back with you.”
- “I have a feeling we are okay on this, but just in case I’ll run it by some people.”
- “We need to do a survey and see what everyone else is thinking.”
There are really two types of people: those who can make a decision on their own, and those who need others to make that decision. You want to be with the right person — the one with the decision-making power — not just the nice person.
Let’s dig a little deeper into this subject. Say you’re biking to the top of a mountain. It’s strenuous. It takes a ton of energy, focus, balance, determination and time. Once you make it to the top and start going down the other side, you have momentum behind you. It doesn’t take nearly as long, the ride is fun, and it requires a whole lot less energy.
Now think about the tendency to start at the bottom in the sales process. It’s very easy to get people at the lower levels to talk to you, but that’s not where ultimate decision maker is. You have to go higher up.
Connecting with a person at a higher level does take longer and more effort is needed, but the reward is greater. Your sales process will go a lot more smoothly, just like riding down the mountain.
If we look at potential people to contact in an organization, generally there are three levels:
1. H.E.R.B. or Highest Executive Responsible for Buying: This is someone who can make the decision to go with you on their own. They have 51% or more of the vote. Their typical titles are CEO, President, VP of Whatever, or Director of This and That.
There is one more level above H.E.R.B. This person is the Grand Poobah. They oversee the macro-level of an organization. They hire H.E.R.B.s to oversee the micro-levels.
2. Decision Influencer: This is someone H.E.R.B. has hired and one of their roles is to influence H.E.R.B. to buy from you. The primary example of an Influencer title is Manager.
3. Gatekeeper: The Gatekeeper isn’t just the front desk person who serves as the first line of defense against unwanted calls or visits. Anyone who is eager to keep you from getting through to H.E.R.B. counts as a Gatekeeper. This person is afraid of change. A Gatekeeper could be a Manager, a third party who makes the decision, a front desk person or an executive assistant.
You may have noticed the titles can be the same for a Decision Influencer and a Gatekeeper. In some cases you really don’t know if they are a Decision Influencer or a Gatekeeper. That’s why it is important to start high and have H.E.R.B. guide you. When you already have a relationship with a Manager, you can’t go any higher than that person is willing to take you.
Getting back to the original question posed at the start of this articleShould we start the sales process low or high?
Should we start the sales process low or high?
Without hesitation, the rule is to start high. The only exception to this rule is when you have an established relationship with the company. Even if you are aware you are not currently dealing with H.E.R.B. at this company, be very careful not to leapfrog over an existing client. You could risk losing the business you are already getting.
Remember, it may be easier to reach Managers and Gatekeepers initially, but future roadblocks will be tougher.
Now it’s time to put this article’s advice into action. Choose five prospective organizations, figure out your H.E.R.B.s and go after them. If someone besides H.E.R.B. is the person you should be talking to, you will be guided to them. How valuable is that? Try it. You truly have nothing to lose and so much to gain!
Good selling to you!