I recently talked with a prospect who had been considering my product for over a year. ‘I’m new to the position and territory so I picked up the opportunity in process. Evidently, the purchase cycle was missed last year so I didn’t want us to repeat the same mistake twice so I asked what happened. There were 2 reasons why the prospect did not buy the prior year. One was an internal process-oriented reason that is confidential. The other reason was that the sales person, after being brought into the process by manager/director level sponsors, flanked and ignored them upon meeting the VP (power sponsor). Turns out the the sponsors AND the VP did not appreciate it and along with the other reason had no compelling motivation to complete the transaction and implement the solution.
Much is said in the sales world about “calling high” and “the path to power”. And, it is mostly true. However, what happened here was a breech of trust. Instead of building the relationship with the sponsors and leading them to help build a relationship with the VP, the sales person took the easy road, went to the VP, and ignored the sponsors. It was more than a bad tactical move. It defied the trust that the VP had in his people and any possible trust that the sponsors and the VP had in the sales person. Ultimately, it costs the sales person any chance of moving the solution forward.
While there are some instances where this tactic might work, thinking through the culture of the company and the relationship between the sponsor(s) and the power sponsor(s) is critical.