The Second Layer

The other day I posted about getting to the root of a prospects problem and not just addressing the symptoms. You can read it here.  The gist of the post was we all too often rush to address a customers needs and don’t spend enough time trying to truly understand what the customers problem is.  This, rush to solution, often ends up with sales trying to sell something that addresses the symptoms but not the customers real problem.

Rob (CS Sales Guy) from this community left a great comment in that post and I thought it deserved to be shared.   Here’s Rob’s comment:

I would agree that this is a great line of questioning.  But the problem that I am starting to realize more and more is the case is not that the people can’t figure out the problem, which this line of questioning gets to the heart of.  The bigger problem is that they can’t figure out how to get everyone else around them to see it as a problem and want to fix it.  Of course this can be helped with a rock solid business case/ROI but ultimately there are alot more things involved in getting everyone else to see the problem than just a great business case.  Buyers and decision makers are used to seeing sales teams come in with great ROI models and business cases.

So the question really is now becoming how can you help people figure out how to get their internal teams to want to make a change.

What a great question.  I call this the second layer.  The second layer is the layer of influencers, decision makers, and the people who can say “no” that aren’t the users of the solution.  This can be IT, HR, Legal, Finance etc.  The second layer has some interest in the decision because ultimately it can effect them. Yet, they are NOT buying the solution and aren’t the benefactors of the decision.  In most cases, the secondary layer stands to lose if things don’t go right, but don’t have much upside.  Think IT, when sales wants to buy a cloud based CRM system.  Although IT won’t use the CRM system, they absolutely have an interest in the purchase.  What type of connectivity is going to be needed?  Are they going to have to support the users?  Does the site conform with internal security policies, etc?  Questions like these drive the secondary layer’s involvement in the decision process.

At Socially Booked we have to deal with a HUGE second layer; IT, HR, Marketing, Legal, all want to get involved.  IT wants to understand how it’s going to impact their environment and how it will integrate with the existing website.  Marketing is concerned that ski instructors may say something inappropriate and undermine the resorts brand.  HR is concerned about the amount of time users could be on it.  Legal is concerned about being sued. (on par for lawyers.) At Socially Booked we’ve realized we can’t be successful unless we address the second layer.  So far we are having some decent success.

One of the things we did early was recognize it was part of the selling process and didn’t try to fight it.  We accepted that there was a big second layer and built it into Socially Booked sales process.  Now, not only do we not get surprised by it, we often encourage our buyers to seek the involvement of the second layer earlier.  We know eventually they will get involved, therefore, we figure get em in early and mitigate surprises.

Because this is such a complex question and it will generate lots of opinions, rather than me share my thoughts on how to address the second layer, I’m putting it out the community.   I will do a follow up with how we are addressing the second layer at Socially Booked and how we get our prospects internal teams to make a change.

What does this community think? How do you get internal support for change?   How do you get buy in from the second layer? What strategies work for you?

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