Dig Into Large Accounts, Find A Mole
By Landy Chase
With the economy in
its current condition, many business people are refocusing their
selling efforts on larger accounts. The assumption is that, in soft
market conditions, these bigger companies have the financial
wherewithal to weather business downturns better. The marketing
focus naturally shifts from small accounts to large ones.
Therein is the
problem. Most sales people don't understand the intricacies of
penetrating large accounts. They attempt to take a small-account
selling approach to this large-account environment, and quickly get
frustrated. Why? Because one cannot knock on the door of a large
business and expect to have success. Selling to large accounts
requires the services of the Mole.
The Mole is your
inside partner for success in large accounts. This is an individual
who has the ability to provide you with the kind of critical inside
information that you need to navigate the maze of politics, turf
wars and departmental minefields in bigger companies and get to
those key individuals who buy.
Let me share an
experience I had five years ago that will illustrate the importance
of the Mole in the large-account sale. At the time, I found myself
in a position to provide my services to an up-and-coming software
manufacturer. My Mole, a Vice President of Sales, and I had several
in-depth meetings to discuss their needs. Eventually, my Mole
arranged an audience with the CEO. He, the Mole and I had a formal
discussion at which the CEO informed me that he liked my proposal
and wanted to move forward.
Sounds like a "done
deal", right? I certainly thought so. Naturally, I assumed that CEO
= Decision Maker. So, I didn't do my homework. I didn't learn that
the CEO answered to a Board of Directors that would approve (or not
approve) funding for the project. So, without my knowledge or
involvement, he presented my proposal to the Board - none of whom
had any prior contact with me - and, predictably, the sale was
stopped dead in its tracks.
Enter the Mole.
I'll never forget the
phone call that morning. "Landy", the Mole said, "I have some bad
news. John presented your proposal to our Board of Directors, and
(this is a direct quote) they threw up all over it".
Not to worry; my Mole
then proceeded to tell me (a) who the Board members were, (b) who
liked my proposal, who didn’t, and (c) most importantly, exactly
what I needed to do to win approval. It took an additional six
weeks, but I was able to salvage the largest client I had acquired
up to that time due to a Mole Intervention. Without him, not only
would I have lost this account, I would have never known why I lost
all contacts make good Mole candidates. Being a "friend" is not
enough. To be truly effective, a Mole must possess three key
1) Political power.
Your mole needs to be able to meet with your key decision-makers
without needing permission. They must have unfettered access to the
Inner Circle of people who can make or break you. This usually
requires a Director of Vice President-level person.
2) WIIFM. An acronym
for what motivates the Mole to dig for you: What's In It For Me.
Without a stake in the outcome, your Mole candidate is unlikely to
be the kind of proactive, aggressive business partner who will
collaborate to get the mission accomplished. If the person you are
considering will not gain benefit from doing business with your
company, eliminate them from consideration for this role.
3) Corporate Clout.
Your Mole has to be taken seriously by the other people who affect
buying decisions. When your Mole talks, people listen.
As you have probably
already concluded, cultivating a Mole is a process that requires
time and patience. The cooperation described is the result of earned
trust. Once you have developed this kind of a relationship, the Mole
becomes your key advocate in the large account and, in most cases,
is the primary reason for your ongoing success. Case in point: if
you take a moment to identify your biggest and best client, you can
easily complete this sentence: My Mole in my best customer
account is ____________. Get the point?
what would happen to your sales results if you had ten more people
just like this one in your list of business contacts. In
large-account selling, who you know really is more important than
what you know. To go for the gold, go to the Mole.
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