Everyone in sales knows the feeling: being denied access to a decision maker. Someone – a gate-keeper, a Blocker – is doing everything in their power to stop you.

How can we get beyond this? How can we access key decision makers and progress our sales opportunities ?

Blockers – apparently – love to frustrate our efforts to speak with and meet with decision makers. Sometimes, their job description requires them to be a professional “filter” to “protect” their boss. 

Other times, we get blocked by stakeholders in the sales process “pretending” to be the final decision maker.

Either way, in order to increase deal velocity and improve our overall chances of winning the deal, we should gain access to all decision makers, including those we are being kept away from.

If we have already been able to talk with the decision maker early in the sales process, then any subsequent attempts to block may not be an issue. However, in this article, let’s assume that we have not yet got there.

Why are Blockers blocking us, and how can we handle them? First, let’s try to understand the “why”.

Blockers

There are three strategies for handling the Blocker. However, before considering which strategy to employ, let’s spend a moment or two to get an understanding of why the Blocker is actually blocking us.

First of all, bear in mind that these Blockers are people, too. Thankfully, they are not – usually – being negative or difficult towards you because they get a kick out of it. Although it may feel that way sometimes…

When I talk about Blockers with my clients – and when I reflect on my own experiences – some of the more common reasons for being blocked include:

  • The Blocker wants to handle everything personally
  • The Blocker is in deep with one of your competitors
  • The Blocker says that this decision is too low level for the attention of the real decision maker
  • The Blocker claims to be the final decision maker (which is pretty common when dealing with Procurement)
  • The Blocker does not want your company to win the deal (for whatever reason)

Do you see a common theme here? Regardless of the reason above, the root cause is the same. The Blocker is looking for an individual win; they are looking for a personal win. Unfortunately for you, he has interpreted your offer as a personal loss. Hence the block.

Now that we are beginning to understood the reasons behind the block, we can do something constructive about it.

Unblocking strategies

As mentioned earlier, there are three alternative paths to choose from:

  1. Show the Blocker how to win by giving you access to the decision maker
  2. Go around the Blocker
  3. Go along with the Blocker

The validity and selection of each is  situational. Let’s take a closer look.

Show the Blocker a win

Of the three strategies, this should be your go-to option. It is by far the best approach. Always try this first, resorting only to either of the other two if it fails.

The Blocker has to see that it will be in their self-interest for you to get through to the key decision maker. Ideally, if the Blocker can be seen to be “giving us access” it has become their initiative. Consequently, they will get the credit & recognition.

    Win-Win outcome

    Show the Blocker that you have something of value to the decision maker. In this context, value is you providing knowledge to the decision maker about how your product / service / solution enables them in one (or several) of the following :

     

    • Increase revenues
    • Improve profitability
    • Increase market share
    • Reduce risks
    • Improve operational effectiveness
    • Improve operational efficiencies

    Go around the Blocker

    If the Blocker persists & is not moving, we may have no alternative but to go around them. Caution is strongly advised, however, as this is a high-risk strategy.

    Champions (internal, or external) or other influential contacts may be able to facilitate a meeting with your target decision maker. However, take care…

    By ignoring the Blocker, they will not see you as an friend or an ally. You are a threat. You will be seen as serving your own, selfish, interests at his or her expense. These Blockers do not forget and they will find a way to get even.

    This is your last-ditch strategy. It should only be applied (if at all) if everything else has failed, or if the stakes are high enough to justify it. 

    Go along with the Blocker

    In selecting this strategy, we may well lose the deal today, but it will buy us time. Time that we can now profitably invest in developing a stronger relationship with the Blocker, and ultimately, our identified decision makers. That way, when future deals surface, our chances of being granted access to your target decision makers will be greater, or we have already gained access.

    Never leave a buyer feeling beaten. Instead, always work with them to show them a Win-Win outcome.

    Blocked is not dead…

    Unfortunately, like all things in life (except arguably death and taxes) there are no guarantees. Similarly, there are no guaranteed outcomes with any of these three strategies. On the upside, feedback from many of my clients (& from my own experience) indicates that the chances of accessing key decision makers improve significantly with the careful and thoughtful use of the right strategies in unblocking those Blockers.

    Therefore, being blocked today does not mean that the sales deal is either dead, or even stalled. It is an opportunity for us to apply ourselves to professionally navigate and find the best route to our destination – the key decision maker behind the Blocker.  

    Informed application of these strategies – particularly “Show the Blocker a Win” and “Go along with the Blocker” – will contribute to you being more successful in sales.

    What’s not to like? Being more successful in finding, developing and winning more sustainable sales opportunities, more quickly, profitably and predictably must surely be the goal of each and every sales professional. 

    Bonus

    Planning for sales calls &/or meetings is a key element in our sales strategy, regardless of our sales process or methodology.

    A Meeting Call Planner helps us better understand more clearly what each of the stakeholders expect from each and every sales conversation. Planning is especially relevant for calls with known or suspected Blockers. It helps us see which strategy should be used, and what tactics we might employ to help the Blocker how they will win by working with us. 

    Don’t have a Meeting Call Planner? We’ve got you covered. Request your free copy of the WhiteBridge Meeting Call Planner. Feel free share it with colleagues, too. 

    Good luck, and happy selling!

    Meeting Call Planner

    Request your copy of the WhiteBridge Meeting Call Planner template.

    About WhiteBridge

    WhiteBridge is a HubSpot Authorised Partner growth agency that works with ambitious business owners, & sales and marketing teams to scale quick, effective and sustainable growth.

    Most of our clients are in technology, SaaS &/or software. However, we also have some great clients that would describe themselves as creatives &/or professional business service companies.

    Want to discuss how your business can be selling more effectively, winning more clients, and increasing your competitive advantage, even during an economic downturn?

    Find a date and time that suits you best, and let’s see what we might achieve together…

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