You’re on a call with a prospect and slowly you begin to suspect that they’re a NOPO – a prospect with No Power to close the deal. NOPOs can run the gamut from tire kickers to enthusiastic believers in your product, but they are all a serious waste of your time.
NOPOs are unfortunately known for sucking up your energy and slowing down the sales process to a crawl. They’re often line-of-business users that could personally see a benefit from your product, but aren’t able to articulate the business case for a product or see the bigger picture. Unfortunately, NOPOs often overestimate their own power at their company and can convince you to win them over, when you should move on and talk to someone with the power to close the deal instead.
NOPOs lurk at just about every company, so how do you avoid wasting too much time selling to one?
1. Know the Job Titles
Before you make a call, make sure you’ve identified the right first contact. A little bit of research could save you a lot of time. Every company has a different naming system for high-level job titles, but there are some general guidelines you can follow to identify a good prospect vs. a NOPO. Sometimes, contacts without power will still have “manager” in their title even if they manage very little on their team. But generally you should be looking for these decision-maker titles:
- For companies smaller than 100 people: Talk to a C-level executive
- For companies 100 to 1,000: Talk to a VP
- For companies larger than 1,000: Talk to a Senior Manager
These titles can vary, of course, but this is a good first step to weeding out prospects that can’t help you. A good strategy is starting top-down and asking someone with power to refer you to the right contact for the sale. Or if you’re talking to someone at a small company with less power, try to move up the chain and reach a decision-maker as quickly as possible.
2. Gauge their Influence
Not every lower-tier employee is a NOPO. Even if someone isn’t a decision-maker themselves, they could become your sales champion and advocate for you within the company. However, not everyone is fit to fill this role. Champions need to have a unique combination of knowledge and influence to be useful to you. They must be seen within their company as an expert – whether they’re a sales expert who can understand the value of a CRM or a data expert who can understand the value of an analytics product. This expertise then gives them influence and pull with their superiors at the company.
You can gauge the influence and access of your prospect by asking them pointed questions about their job, their struggles and more. This takes more delicacy and tact, but usually you can quickly learn whether they understand your product and are knowledgeable on the subject matter. If they’re a NOPO without knowledge or influence, they’re just not worth coaching to become a champion. Then it’s time to ask for a referral within the company to someone with more power.
3. Ask to Move Up the Ladder
If you suspect that you have a NOPO on your hands, what do you do about it? Instead of wasting too much time selling to them, you can ask questions to push them to confirm it. Don’t be afraid to be direct and say, “What are your responsibilities in the buying process?” and “Who makes the final decision to approve a contract?” If they admit that they have no power in the buying process, you’ve found a NOPO.
Hopefully, they can quickly tell you who you should be talking to, and you can push them to introduce you to the person you need. If they’re reluctant or don’t know who you should call, at least find out a name or the title of a colleague that may be able to help more. There is a chance that you could get passed around the company a bit before you finally reach the right person, but that is a risk you have to take. If you’re persistent, you can get in touch with the person who both understands your product, and can sign the contract to buy.
Don’t let a NOPO drag you down and waste your valuable time. By focusing on reaching the right prospect at a company, gauging influence and gaining access to higher-ups, you can accelerate your sales process and close the deal sooner.