Up and out -- that is my motto. Whenever I'm pursuing a contract, project or deal, I find out who all the top level people are in the organization. Then I focus on how I'm going to spread like a virus in an organization and get to them. But the leaders who are always the most helpful are those in the sales department. No matter what I've been selling -- automation equipment, warehousing equipment, electronics, or consulting services, the selling organization always seems to be the easiest to get to, and provides the most insights about the organization. They have also been the most helpful networking me to others with the least hassle.

Sales managers and sales people are sympathetic to other salespeople. They’ve been there. They know what you're going through, and they'll help you as much as they can, if you ask. They're not threatened or annoyed by other salespeople. They know you're not going to pitch them and they are usually the talkative type.

Sales VPs are the most connected to what's going on in the organization. They are joined at the hip to the CEO or Profit-Center Leader because sales mean everything to a business organization. Sales VPs are privy to all that's happening in the company from operations to HR to R&D. That's because all these functions eventually impact sales and attracting customers -- and that's the sales VP's turf.

Therefore, no matter what your selling -- from electronics to healthcare -- get connected to the sales managers. Interview the top sales VP, if you can get to him. If not talk with the regional managers, to understand what's going on in the company as it relates to your solution portfolio and ask them to network you to the sales VP.

When I tell the salespeople I coach to do this, they look at me like I'm from another planet. That's because most sales people concentrate on the direct chain of command for their sales. The sales department is usually the farthest from their thinking. Unfortunately, decisions are not made in a straight line. That's why business-to-business sales are complex and that's why I suggest up and out. However, decisions are made by the leaders. They discuss purchases, budgeting decisions and investments at their staff meetings and the sales manager is always involved.

I was recently coaching a company that sells copying, document storage and retrieval, etc. equipment. I asked them what was important to the sales organization, as it relates to copying, to the companies they are trying to sell. The people had to think for a few seconds on this one because their customers’ sales department’s needs never came into their thinking. So I suggested they set their focus on the sales managers and use their salespeople or others to network them there.

Now here is a critically important reason for getting to the sales manager. Companies spend the most, quickly, and easily on equipment, services, or investments that help them get more business. If you can tie your offering to helping them get more sales, in one way or another, it will sell faster, easier, and for more money. This being said, no one could be better than the VP of Sales to give you insights on how to help his or her company get more business.

Last words of wisdom -- interviewing is the key to success with sales managers. Do not pitch them. If you go into a pitch, you'll get nothing and nowhere. Don't try to tell the sales VP how your product can help him or her sell more. Let the sales VP tell you how your services can get them more business. You may have to expose and entice a bit, but let him or her tell you.

The Sales VP can provide information and insights that will help you with your selling strategy. S/he can easily network you to the profit-center leader. S/he can also be a great coach, if s/he feels you can help them get more sales or please their customers. So, let him or her show you the way, and then it's up to you to fit your services to his or her desires.

Shift your thinking to helping your customers sell more to their customers. Start by focusing on getting to the leaders most intimate with their customers -- the VP of sales and profit center leader.

And now I invite you to learn more.

Bonus Tip: Free Book – “TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER$”– The Complete Guide to C-Level Selling – hardback version. Network, get past gatekeepers, interact with leaders and top executives, secure commitments and sell more than you ever thought possible. Click this C-Level Selling Book Link to learn more about this fantastic offer.

Author's Bio: 

Sam Manfer is an expert sales strategist, entertaining key note speaker and author of TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER$, a book that gets C-Level and other influential decision-makers to meet with you and return voicemails. Sam makes it easy for any sales person to generate tons of quality leads, and become a 70% closer. Sign-Up for Sam’s FREE Advanced Sales Training Tips and Articles at http://www.clevelselling.com