There was an interesting scene in the film ‘Suite Française’ in which a German officer ran into the flower bush to hide from his French host.
When he was in the bush with a French girl who happened to be the ‘daughter-in-law’ of his host for which reason he was hiding from her, he said to her, ‘I thought I was the one everyone was supposed to be afraid of’?
It was an interesting irony.
He was an officer of the occupying power, with body guards and guns at his disposal, yet here he was hiding from someone who was supposed to be his prisoner.
This scene tells us something very interesting about power and it is something we want to pay to attention as marketers and small business owners in our effort to sell our products and services to large organisations.
Power dynamic 101: power does not actual reside where we think it does.
Most sales people and small business owners are under the illusion that the best person to sell to in a large corporate is the C level person.
It’s true having a C level person on your side can only enhance your prospects.
However, having the C level person in your corner does not necessarily mean you will be able to make the sale.
The real person who pulls the trigger might not even be a C level person.
It might be the personal assistant to the person or the heads of departments.
There is always lot of politics going on in a large organisations, with everyone trying to watch their back and protect their purse.
The mind-set of the majority of people working in large corporations is: what’s in it for me.
They don’t go to work with the desire of helping the organisation succeed.
Most of the times their concern is how much they can make from the organisation.
So if your sales pitch is based upon benefit to the organisation, you are toasted.
This is why, when you go to sell to them, you first need to ensure, you identify the real power behind the throne.
Identify the actual person who pulls the trigger and find out the benefit they will personally accrue from using your product and service and make that your sales pitch.
Dan Kennedy told the story of a discussion he had with former US Secretary of State Colin Powell.
General Powell gave him a gift and he asked him out of curiosity why he gave him two boxes of the same thing.
General Powell said he wanted to get rid of them.
Then he proceeded to tell him the story of how when he was Secretary of State, each month he will received 12 boxes of goodies to give away.
He said there were many months when he had not even given away the ones for the previous months, yet they brought him fresh supplies.
He tried to get them to stop but no one was prepared to listen to him.
So he decided to take the matter directly to President Bush.
When he told President Bush how irritated he was with this constant supply of goodies that was filling his office, President Bush took him into his office and showed him his own backlog of goodies that were filling his office.
He explained that he had tried getting them to stop yet the supply kept arriving each month.
Anyone trying to supply to the US government might think to themselves having close connection with President Bush will help their case.
As you can deduce from the above story, the president of the United States has no say in supplies to the Federal Government.
The person who pulls the trigger might be a low level civil servant whose name a lot of suppliers might never have heard.
I hope this serves as a good lesson for you in your endeavour to sell to large organisations.
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