The other day I was preparing for a phone interview with a woman who by my definition, was a very successful business executive in every meaning of the word. I was doing my homework thinking she had very little time to waste and lots of responsibilities to tend to other than talking to me. In truth, I was flattered that this individual agreed to spend an hour of her time with me.
I made the call with a bit of trepidation. You might recognize this feeling as fear. It was all for naught. Our time on the phone together was fun and entertaining – and it passed all too quickly. I had an entirely new and refreshing feeling for this person as a result of the call and that is when it hit me. Not all “Big Shots” are stiffs.
There is a reason why I am sharing this thought with you today, so if you do not have anything better to do, stay with me. I found myself thinking about a mistake that many sales people make – namely, thinking that the higher people are on the totem pole, the harder they are to reach. This can be true since an executive’s most protective asset happens to be time. They have gotten to where they are as a result of maximizing their control of this most important element. But once you manage to reach them, chances are you will be in for a delightful experience, if you play your cards right. I’ll explain that one in a moment.
My dad was a “Big Shot.” With the title of “president” overseeing 700 people and with more than 250 pounds to back up his wishes, his skill to unknowingly intimidate people was second to none. Only his wife and kids knew that the term “teddy-bear” was more appropriate than Mr. Big. He was funny, warm, congenial, caring and honest. But because of his title employees, suppliers and even clients from time to time feared him and treated him as “unapproachable.” He never did understand this and, from my vantage point, he helped me see the truth in the saying, “It is lonely at the top.”
Why am I sharing these observations with you? I want you to know something before it is too late. In many, if not most cases, a “Big Shot” is not a stiff. Most “Big Shot” corporate executives mean well and are doing their jobs as best they can. They are approachable and once you manage to gain an audience with them, most of them speak plain and simple English.
If they are men, they put their pants on one leg at a time. If they are women…well, I’m not quite sure what they do, but I am sure the thought process is quite similar. The secret is how you handle the conversation once you do manage to gain an audience with them. There are four cardinal rules for dealing with “Big Shots” and none of them should be threatening to you. After all, these people may be busy and focused, but they are not “stiffs.” Here are a few things to remember:
Be specific. Don’t beat around the bush or “hem” and “haw.” This will be instantly interpreted as wasting their time.
Use time-lines. This indicates you have thought your ideas through. Doing your homework and coming to the meeting prepared is job number one.
Always deliver what you promise. Talk is cheap and nobody knows this better than “Big Shots.” Do what you say you will, and then a little bit more, and you will be well on your way to establishing a business rapport.
Never challenge their ego, power, control or authority. “Big Shots” do not grow on trees. It took a lot of work and effort to get where they are today. They are responsible for feeding a lot of families. Be respectful of this journey. It is not for every body.
So, what does this all mean to you? Gravity rules in business just as it does in everyday life. It is easier to be passed down through a company than it is to climb up to the penthouse. A “no” from “Mr. Big” is spelled exactly like the “no” coming from the mail room. It stings just the same depending on how healthy your frame of mind is. Therefore, doesn’t it make sense to shoot for the guy or gal who is probably finding life lonely at the top? I want you to rewrite next week’s client target list and include a dozen “Big Shots.” And if they question you, tell ’em Marchev said so.
Mike Marchev has plenty of stories, strategies and tactics to keep you on top of your game.
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