Three Recent Hurricanes Show the Path to More Effective Selling

Three of this year’s (2023) Hurricanes took unusual paths for hurricanes.  This past week, Hurricane Lee roared into Nova Scotia, becoming the first such storm to do so since 2003, although at the time it made landfall, Lee had been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone.

Earlier this summer, Hurricane Hillary became the first tropical storm to make landfall in Southern California.

And in late August, Hurricane Idalia made landfall in the Big Bend area of Northwest Florida, becoming the first major hurricane to ever pass through that area.

With their unusual paths, the three hurricanes did not cause as much damage as was feared.  As we have seen in the past several years, most powerful hurricanes take more traditional paths and make direct landfall in vulnerable areas of the Southeastern United States where they cause billions of dollars in damage.

Hurricane paths make a really useful analogy to effective selling.

One major key to success in sales is a salesperson’s ability to reach decision makers. Objective Management Group (OMG) has assessed nearly 2.4 million salespeople and its effectiveness data is very compelling. Salespeople who reach THE decision maker are 341% more likely to close the business than those who fail to reach the decision maker. 

Similar to the 2023 hurricanes, B2B salespeople take one of five paths:

  1. They reach out directly to the Decision Maker
  2. They settle for someone who reports directly to the Decision Maker
  3. They settle for someone who has influence over the Decision Maker
  4. They call on Procurement
  5. They call on a business user.

A salesperson who messaged me last week is a great example of how successful salespeople are when they call on Decision Makers. Freddy was excited to talk about his recent success and I have changed his name and company names to protect his identity.  Freddy wrote:

“My biggest AHA was really making sure I talked with the owners instead of going to ‘Marketing or IT’.  I worked the [Well-Know Manufacturer] channel for 9 years and never once went to the owners first.  In my space, that is our buyer and signer.  However, working with them also lengthens the sales process.  Going right to the owner, and allowing him delegate it to the marketing team was the winning ticket.   I think you even told me in one of my original trainings,’It sounds like you are not talking to the person who makes the decisions.'” 

It’s been years since Freddy was in training so why did it take so long for him to change his sales strategy?  Could his reason be the same reason that prevents other salespeople from calling on Decision Makers?  There are several factors that explain why salespeople don’t contact decision makers:

  • It is not a milestone in their Sales Process
  • They don’t believe they are required to meet with or talk with the decision maker (Sales Management Expectations) 
  • They aren’t comfortable talking with someone in a position of power (Self-Limiting Beliefs – Sales DNA)
  • They aren’t willing to go around the person who is preventing them from reaching the decision maker (Need to be Liked – Sales DNA)
  • They don’t know how to get to the decision maker (Tactical)
  • They mistakenly or ignorantly believe their contact has the authority to make a buying decision (Qualifier – Tactical)

Let’s assume that because of the size of these well-known manufacturers, Freddy’s competitors were also interested in winning these accounts. Who do you think the CEO/President/Owner will choose if Freddy is the only salesperson they meet?  And Freddy is very likely to be the only salesperson to reach that decision maker because according to OMG, only 27% of all salespeople have Reaching Decision Makers as a strength.  Even worse, only 10% of the bottom half of all salespeople have Reaching Decision Makers as a strength.  Reaching Decision Makers  is one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies measured by OMG.  See all 21 Sales Core Competencies.

Hurricanes are different from salespeople because Hurricanes have no fear.  But many salespeople have fear and lots of it.  You must overcome your discomfort, coach your salespeople to overcome their discomfort, ignore your fears, and become a superstar.  Back in the 1950’s, insurance executive Albert Gray said, “The only difference between sales winners and everyone else is that the winners do the things they don’t want to do.”