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Targeting People Who “Do The Work”

by David Brock on May 22nd, 2021

I grew up in sales always being told, “Call at the top!” We always want to reach the highest levels possible. Often, we mistakenly believe that if we can convince them, our job will be easier. Sometimes, we go to the top, knowing we will be referred to lower levels, but us this referral as an “implied sponsorship.” Sometimes we are successful in engaging executives, and we focus all our attention on them, ignoring people who do the work.

The reality, as we’ve known for years, is that buying is a “team sport.” Increasing numbers of people are involved in the buying process, fewer people can say “Yes,” providing us an order, yet only one has to say “No” to stop everything. Buying has become a consensus process, we have to work with everyone involved.

One of the most important groups to work with are the people who do the work. They are the one’s that face the problems and challenges that drive customers to buy. They know what the issues are, what the impact is. The people who do the work can give us the deepest and most accurate insight into the current situation. They see things management may be unaware of.

They become, perhaps, the most important in committing to changing. For without this commitment, there is no reason to change, or the likelihood of project success might be very low.

These people may not know there are better or more effective ways of doing things, after all, they are probably overwhelmed with just getting things done. But they may be hungry for the opportunity to change, improve, grow. Or simply to make sense of the things they face.

Too often, we don’t invest time in these people, understanding what they do, teaching them, gaining their support. Instead we focus on convincing management. The reality, is no good leader will make a decision without the full support of the team. They know that without that support the project may fail. The people who do the work have the biggest vested interest in the change initiative.

Sometimes, we can’t reach senior management. But the people doing the work can and will–if they really understand the value of the solution and are committed to making it happen. They may need help in building the business case, but if they buy into the need to change, if they see a path to achieving their goals more effectively, they will fight for the change.

The problem with much of what we do, when we focus on senior management, is they may be very distant from the situation, not understanding the importance or urgency in making a change, or not understanding the impact on the people on whom we inflict the changes.

We need to leverage everyone involved in the buying process. We need to get alignment across the buying team. By doing so, we create the greatest value with them and maximize the opportunity for success.

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