Ask Steve: How Do I Navigate Around Low-Level Contacts Who Only Want a Price Quote?

Dear Steve,

I think my team is selling too low in accounts. We find ourselves talking to contacts two-steps below the C-suite and they can’t say ‘no’ until they get the demo and a quote for their boss.

Do you have any tips for turning this scenario around where the lower level contact doesn’t need the quote before letting us speak to the actual decision maker?

Sincerely, Michael

This is a common challenge for many sellers. You’re excited to get someone on the phone, they sound qualified, but they don’t reveal they lack buying power until AFTER they get the demo and your price.

The best way to avoid it? Start higher in the first place. Use the inbound lead as a springboard to the correct level. Typically it’s their boss, but it could be their boss’ boss.

Eloqua started taking this approach years ago. They’d call the lead because it was the right account but a low-level contact. Reps would pick the low-level contact’s brain to gather the intel they needed.

That intel served as the pre-call research for a conversation with the more senior person where the rep would drop their common challenge (topic, trend, typical pain point, etc.) in addition to the referral from the lower level contact, e.g.

“Hi [SENIOR CONTACT], I was speaking with [LOW LEVEL CONTACT] about [COMMON CHALLENGE] and they mentioned you…”

The end result was goldilocks-level engagement: not too senior, not too junior, but just right. Once you get meetings with people at the correct level, you should see conversion rates go up. This is because the more junior people will be pulled in, building consensus faster.

But what if the lower level contact is reluctant to give up the decision maker?

Dig deeper. Why were they asked to look into solutions like yours? Much of the time these lower level contacts either have SOME say in the decision or are ultimately an end user.

Figure out what the low-level contact’s motivations are for a solution like yours. If it’s something that will drastically improve their workflow, it becomes much easier to recommend they pull in the decision maker sooner. After all, who wants to wait months for a solution to a problem they’re having now?

Another good card to play is asking how this solution affects others: “If this initiative fails, who all feels the impact?” Their answer to this question ultimately reveals whether or not this opportunity is really worth pursuing.

If the low-level contact is still reluctant to give up their boss, it’s also very easy to find out who they report up to. Use a combo of LinkedIn and calls into the receptionist and executive assistants at the company. “Hoping you can help me out. Who does [NAME] report up to?” This works remarkably well.

Once you established the connection with the senior contact, start sharing content to get them engaged.

Not too keen on going over someone’s head? Leverage your marketing team. If they’re doing paid campaigns on social media, ask them to include targeting toward the senior level contacts of the account. The more they see your brand, the better your chances are of having a conversation.

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