Help! I'm being blocked. What now?
by David Frew | 24 Feb 2022
Everyone in sales knows the feeling: being denied access to a decision-maker. Someone – a gatekeeper, 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 decision-makers. Sometimes, their job description requires them to be a professional “filter” to “protect” their boss. And many of them are very good at it!
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?
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, a personal win. Unfortunately for you, he has interpreted your offer as a personal loss. Hence the block.
Now that we are beginning to understand the reasons behind the block, we can do something constructive about it.
As mentioned earlier, there are three alternative paths to choose from:
- Show the Blocker how to win by giving you access to the decision-maker
- Go around the Blocker
- Go along with the Blocker
The validity and selection of each are 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 credit & recognition.
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 a friend or an ally. You are now 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. I recommend only using this (if at all) when everything else has failed, and if the stakes are sufficiently high 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 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.
Therefore, being blocked today does not mean that the sales deal is either dead or even stalled. It is, however, 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 aid your sales success.
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.
Planning for sales calls &/or meetings is a key element in our sales strategy, regardless of our sales process or methodology.
Using a Meeting Call Planner can help us understand more clearly what stakeholders expect from each and every sales conversation. This is especially relevant for calls with known or suspected Blockers. The Planner helps us consider which strategy should be used, and what tactics we might employ to help the Blocker see how they will win by working with us.
Don’t have a Meeting Call Planner? We’ve got you covered. Download your free copy of the WhiteBridge Meeting Call Planner. Feel free to share it with colleagues, too.
Good luck, and happy selling!
WhiteBridge is an Oslo-based HubSpot Authorised Partner growth agency that works with ambitious business owners, & sales and marketing teams to scale quick, effective and sustainable growth.
Many of our clients develop and sell their own innovative SaaS &/or software solutions, or technologies. However, we also have some great clients that describe themselves as creatives &/or professional business service companies.
Want to discuss how your business can sell more effectively, win more clients, and increase your competitive advantage?
Find a date and time that suits you best, and let’s see what we might achieve together…
Why you should never "just check in" with a prospect
In "sales prospecting", "customer acquisition", "prospecting effectiveness", "empathy", "competitive advantage", "prospecting", "building relationships", "new business", "adding value"
Sales is hard. Sales is necessary. Sales matters.
In "sales prospecting", "customer acquisition", "prospecting effectiveness", "empathy", "sales", "competitive advantage", "prospecting", "sales effectiveness", "lead generation", "cold calling", "building relationships", "new business", "adding value"