by Catherine Brinkman

You never know who your buyer is. Age doesn’t matter anymore and neither do titles! Theoretically everyone is a buyer. Maybe not exactly today, but give it time. So please, don’t judge your prospects by their cover.

If only all salespeople kept that mindset… Maybe it is because I hail from the land of 0s and 1s, where everyone has a startup. There is enough filler and plastic surgery that age is impossible to guess. Knowing who is who on the organization chart is the key to nailing deals.

Silicon Valley is weird. So, if you see a person that looks like a 24-year-old intern they may have access to a multi-million dollar budget. Or you could think someone is a seasoned CEO, but they are a retiree that got bored at home and went back to work as a hobby with absolutely NO buying authority.

Even if you take Silicon Valley out of it, these scenarios are global. Since we are salespeople and love to talk, talk to everyone with an open mind. Do not judge a prospect by their cover.

Here are four rules to follow to make sure that you are keeping your buying base wide:

1) Jeans and a T-shirt doesn’t mean that you are a low-level employee.
Mark Zuckerberg has more buying power than 99% of the globe. His uniform looks like the first thing that most of us would grab off our bedroom floor. Zuckerberg’s jeans and grey t-shirt are his trademark look.

That person in the ripped jeans, vintage T and flip flops with bed head may control the budget. Treat that person like they are wearing a fine Italian silk suit.

2) A pant suit no longer makes the buyer.
A suit and a Rolex used to spell DECISION MAKER. Sure those suits are custom and the watch is still wonderful… but those in the suits with fancy watches may be fellow salespeople that look fancy to portray an image of success. When in truth, they have two tailored suits, one watch and are not eating filet mignon unless they can expense it. Be nice to everyone.

(Total sidebar, I am in sales and what I just mentioned, the custom suit and fancy watch, is my uniform maybe one day every two weeks. People have walked into companies I worked at, saw me and thought I was the decision maker when I am dressed fancy. As soon as they found out I was a sales representative with no buying power they treated me like I was worthless. They didn’t know that I was close to the boss and when I was asked my opinion those people that were “rude and mean” didn’t get the sale.)

3) Evangelistic Specialist What???
Titles mean very little anymore. Understanding the job behind the title is what salespeople need to care about. And when a title stumps you, ask what it means. A Manager of Client Chatter may or may not need your service, because the person that has that title is a call center manager. The term Ninja isn’t being used to talk about turtles. Ninjas are mangers or problem solvers.

Ask about titles to make sure that you are talking to the right person, but always be respectful of their position if you find out that they are not the decision maker.

4) Remember their name!
Titles and attire mean nothing. It is the person that counts. Remember their name! While titles and jobs change, as do uniforms, a person’s name never changes. It may seem trivial, but that admin that just answered the phone and you two hit it off, is key to put into your CRM.

Who knows, he may one day be the executive assistant to a C-level at a major Fortune 10 company. You tracked him as he moved from “I only answer the phone hoodie wearer” to becoming the C-Level executive assistant that occasionally wears an important client preppy look. You’ll get the meeting to his boss faster than anyone else.

Or maybe that bratty owner’s daughter you allowed to come to a baseball game occasionally, and begrudgingly bought a High School graduation gift for, became a grown up refined CEO. She remembers how you treated her when she was a kid. All of a sudden that sales call becomes an order.

The bottom line is, BE NICE and treat everyone as a potential buyer.

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