For years, salespeople were told to pursue a top-down sales approach. Companies used their marketing data to identify the highest level decision maker at each customer account.
It made sense. After all, why wouldn't you go directly to the top? Why not find the person who makes the most important decisions and get their buy-in first?
Well, there's another strategy and it's the bottom-up sales approach and it's gaining momentum. So, which one works best now and why?
The top-down sales strategy is simple. Identify the main decision maker. Develop a relationship with that individual. Use your existing marketing data to define what makes him or her tick. Identify a need, outline a solution and start negotiating. All the people below the decision maker will follow suit. Win over the main decision maker and everybody else will fall in line.
For years the top-down sales strategy was preferred because it made it simpler to get everyone on board. Granted, it often took longer to establish a high-level contact, but once that contact was established, and once that individual bought into the company's value proposition, then the rest followed. Employees that reported to this high-level contact were more agreeable and more willing to go along.
The bottom-up approach comes down to working multiple contacts and building consensus among those contacts before working your way up to those aforementioned high-level contacts. The idea is to gain acceptance among lower-level employees and use their buy-in to convince the higher-ups that the product or service is worth pursuing. So, which strategy wins the day now and why?
While both strategies apply for different scenarios, an argument can easily be made that the bottom-up sales approach works best in today's marketplace. Why? Simply put, technology adoption by multiple users makes it easier to achieve buy-in from high-level executives. In essence, high-level executives are pressed for time.
High-level decision makers are more likely to go with a solution on which their employees have a consensus. Ultimately, today's technology hasn't freed up time for high-level executives. There are more time-critical demands on these decision makers than ever before. If anything, time has become a commodity and they are more likely to go with something that's already been sold to those beneath them. It saves them time when the decision has already been made.
You have the marketing data right now to identify how best to apply a top-down or bottom-up sales approach and to whom to apply it. Don't get stuck using one strategy for all customers. Come up with specific sales approaches for each of your buyer personas.
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