When selling to high level decision making executives such as C-Level and Vice President level target contacts, the frustration for many inside sales executives is in connecting with these decision makers. More often than not, especially while selling to larger companies, the high level executives are amongst the most difficult to connect with over the phone either because they are too busy to take a sales call or they are heavily shielded by layers of administrative and personal assistants. When a sales person looking to connect with the decision maker is blocked by a PA, there is bound to be some amount of resistance unless you were looking to connect with the PA in the first place that is.

“Looking to connect with the PA in the first place??? What on earth for?” a good percentage of inside sales pros would say but it can make sense in several situations. If you think of it from the perspective of a personal assistant who just received a call where a sales person said “connect me to Amanda Jennings, the Senior Vice President of Information Technology.” …she realized its someone trying to get to the SVP of IT and she will do her job by screening the call and asking what is this phone call with regard to. Without having to think twice, he or she will become defensive and naturally try and withold as much information. Now imagine a sales person calls up and says “Hi is this Linda who works with Mrs Jennings?, I had some questions I was wondering if you could help me with.” .. the tone would have changed and the PA would more likely to listen to the sales person and even be willing to help in some way. No road block.

So why the change? In the first case the person asks directly for the decision maker and its the PA’s job to keep them out. In the second case, when the sales person knows the PA’s name and would like to connect with him or her, then it’s more natural to want to help out and not be defensive. Though knowing the key decision maker and connecting with them is the only way to really have a chance at selling into your accounts, starting off with the PA’s isn’t always such a bad strategy either. PA’s if co-operative can often be a very helpful source of information to help profile the account and get some answers to questions which can help when eventually speaking to the decision makers.

So the next time you are building a list of decision makers for an upcoming campaign, you may want to consider adding one additional target contact to your database. The personal assistant to the decision maker. You never know when it will come in useful.

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