Why You Didn’t Meet Your Quota Last Quarter – Part 3: Selling to a Single Point of Failure

Meeting Your Quota Doesn't have to be an uphill battle

This blog is part three of a three part series on the topic, “Why You Didn’t Meet Your Quota Last Quarter”. Don’t miss part one and part two of the series!

When we last left off, we were talking about what happens when we’re single threaded, relying on only one main point of contact to get us to a deal. Often this means working with what Jill Konrath likes to refer as the “NoPos” (prospects with No Power). We aren’t  in front of the actual Decision Makers.

Everyone who has ever been in sales has had this scenario:

An inbound lead comes in, it’s Johnny, a former user who loves our service and is at a new company. Johnny promises you that you’re going to get the easiest deal in the world, he just needs to know pricing.  You give Johnny pricing.  Johnny takes it to his boss.  Boss tells Johnny he’s crazy, that’s way out of the budget, and that Johnny needs to get back to work.  You, salesperson, go home to cry and watch Desperate Housewives.  Ok, maybe that last part was just me.

We also all know what was wrong with that picture.  Johnny’s a great guy, but he doesn’t spend all day every day trying to sell your product — he’s not equipped to present the business case for it to a decision maker.  Instead, if we’d gotten a call set up with Johnny and his boss, we know we’d have been able to close it with Johnny backing us up, while we present the business case.  However, we wanted it to be easier, and it would’ve been awkward to tell Johnny “sorry I don’t think you’re good enough to sell your boss on this, so can you let me do it?” So, we copped out, gave Johnny pricing, and crossed our fingers.

The worst part is every time we do that we know it has a high likelihood of failing.  But we make the same mistake time and time again. So…

The Problem(s): Putting all your eggs into one NoPo

Actually, there’s really two problems here:

1. Relying on a NoPo.  Just because they say they want it, doesn’t mean they are willing (or able) to convince others in their organization of purchasing.

According to a Harvard Business Review article, “A CEB survey of nearly 600 B2B buyers found that fully half the people who reported a willingness to buy a product or service were not willing to publicly advocate for it.”

2. The other problem is relying on any single person to get you a sale, even if they do have purchasing authority.

I don’t know about you but our prospects hardly ever tell us “no”, they just say “not yet” or they just go dark on us. Every time that happens, I know we’re not losing to our competitors, we’re losing to our inability to get in front of enough of the right people.

Let me admit that these two areas are where our quarters have fallen short.  When we look at our pipeline THIS is where we see the biggest opportunity to improve. Our win rate on opportunities created is about 20% and I’m 100% convinced it could be 25% if we did this the right way, every time.

So, let’s fix that…

Solution One: Be OK being uncomfortable

I think the first problem – relying on NoPos – really just stems from our reluctance, as generally nice human beings, to engage in somewhat uncomfortable conversations.  Here’s an example that one of our reps came up with to handle a scenarios like Johnny’s.  We call it the “NoPo Price Handler” and its goal is to keep control of the sale and get in front of the decision maker. It is probably one of the most awkward conversations we have with our potential future clients.

Johnny, I know that you’re tasked to bring price back to your boss, but here’s the problem – we don’t know that she truly understands the true cost of the problem you’re facing right now, based on what we talked about here today. So, here’s what I would task you with:  find out from her if she really understands the size of the problem that you’re facing, and if she’s committed to doing something about it.

If she’s not committed, then she doesn’t need the price because the price is always going to be too high.  And if she’s only looking at price, she doesn’t need our price – we’re expensive, and it won’t be a fit.  But if she’s committed to fixing this problem right now, here’s the reality: our clients are Fortune 50 right on down to start-ups and mom-and-pop shops. We can find a way to make this something that you can afford.

Phew.  That was uncomfortable.  It’s not like we bat 1.000 when we say it. We just hope to we move the needle 10% in the right direction.

Solution Two: Avoid your single point of failure

Now the second problem – relying on one key contact regardless of whether they’re the decision maker or not – is doubly painful for me.  Why? Because we sell a solution that helps solve for this.  Ever wonder why we’re named DiscoverOrg? It’s because we provide Org Charts! Orginizational Charts that map out all the key stakeholders for our clients. To our own chagrin, we don’t have this handy dandy tool for ourselves because we haven’t profiled sales departments yet (we cover IT, Finance, Marketing, Product Development, and soon to cover HR. But no Sales…yet.).

How do you solve for single contact conundrum?  Well, knowing who all the key contacts are is half the battle.  For our team, we’re going to build “DiscoverOrg for DiscoverOrg”. And Guess what?  It is literally going to cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, we know it’s going to provide 7-figure returns:

Hire 3 researchers: Fully Burdened Annual Cost (salary, health insurance, system licenses, space costs etc.)$58,000×3
Total Annual Cost for 3 Researchers$174,000
Hire a Manager: Fully Burdened Cost$75,000
Hire QA Rep to keep data clean: Fully Burdened Cost$58,000
Average output after fully trained: 3.33 profiles / day / rep; or 2, 500 profiles for the year.
Total Annual Cost for 2,500 profiles$307,000


For our customers, they know there’s an easier, and much cheaper, way: just get DiscoverOrg.  We’ve got 100+ researchers on staff already building out org charts and identifying decision makers in the IT, Finance, Marketing, Engineering and Product Development departments of companies all around the world. And, you get to split the cost of them across our entire customer base.

No matter how you get the information, the next question is “What do you do once you have the Org Charts and know who the key players are?”  You call them, and you make damn sure your messaging is persona-based, meaning it’s tailored to the role of the person you’re calling.  One of the easiest things to build is a Message Map that outlines the different personas you sell to and the things they care about.  Here’s a great example:

Segmented Message Map by Persona | Sales Intelligence Application | DiscoverOrg

Click for Full Size PDF

And if you’re not convinced yet, check out this awesome case study Topo did on how the company Cloudera goes about sales.  Their approach, called “Account Based Sales”, encourages SDRs to call as many as 200-300 people in each one of the Enterprise companies they sell into and schedule as many as 15 different meetings.  That strategy has led to Cloudera becoming one of those Silicon Valley Unicorns (aka companies valued at over a $1bn).

Finally, here’s how we’re drinking our own medicine at DiscoverOrg and changing our strategy come 2016:

1.     Draw a circle around our ideal total addressable market and commit to knocking down the doors at as many of these companies as we can.

2.     Build DiscoverOrg for DiscoverOrg, so we can map out all our target accounts with all those key stakeholders

3.     Put our persona-based messaging in play.  Our sales development reps will reach out to MULTIPLE stakeholders in every account

4.     By doing so we expect:

a.      To increase our win rate (opportunities that turn into new deals) a few points

b.     To increase our average deal size (more stakeholders buying in = greater adoption, more users purchased, more data purchased)

That’s it.  Diagnostic complete.  Now it’s down to execution.  I’ll let you know same time next year how great it worked.

P.S. I hope we can play a part in helping you do the same.

See how Cloudera became a Silicon Valley Unicorn using "Account Based Sales"Be a Unicorn

As a Co-Head of Sales, Patrick manages sales and business development at DiscoverOrg where he is responsible for ..read more