Lunch with the Godfather: Getting to the Decision Maker

One of the challenges that your sales people have is getting to the right person in the buying organization, meaning the person that is in the position to make or influence the decision to purchase your offering.   Most enterprise sales job descriptions talk about the need to “…interact with C level people…” but, if you are honest with yourself, how often does this really happen?  C level people are buy, shielded by organizations and have a lot larger things to worry about than your offering.  Getting to them can be tougher than arranging a lunch date with the Godfather.

A Difficult Path to Navigate

CEOs and boards understand the importance of getting to the “Decision Maker” or “Economic Buyer” but often gloss over the fact that:

  1. Getting to him/her is very difficult and takes time.  Sometimes a very long time.
  2. Your offering may just not be that important to that person, and ine of 1,000s of items vying for their attention
  3. They are sending their sales team mixed signals by, on the one hand demanding these high level connections (slow, time consuming, low productivity) but, on the other hand calling for production (“Your pipeline is weak. Where are the sales?”
  4. Most organizations have a process applied to evaluating solutions and rarely rely on the decision maker to pull the trigger on their own at their whim.
  5. The complex sales process is a process.  One that involves building relationships, credibility and momentum within the buying organization.  There are no shortcuts

Fresh Underwear

Mixed signals from the CEO and the board (“Get us in front for the C level person.”, “Make sales now.”)  put the sales team in an untenable position; this is played out in an organization cycling through VPs of Sales like fresh sets of underwear.   Each new VP is brought in to “fix” the situation, however the challenge is less likely the previous VP than understanding (and being realistic about) the sales process.

Now sales people, in an effort to keep things moving, show activity and momentum, will let themselves get delegated down to technical buyers or extraneous actors who can be huge time sinks, so encouraging them to call high and qualify is important.  If you are patient, having your sales team make a fundamental qualification with the economic buyer (“If you see value in our offering and its use as a priority in your organization, I will work with the technical buyer.  Otherwise, I won’t.”) can be powerful, but it takes courage and patience to do so.


  1. “Like” having lunch with the Godfather

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