Have you been to a sales seminar or training course in the past few years? Consultative selling is all the rage and it seems like the wisdom is to call high. Sure they might direct you downwards, but start at the top. Become a trusted advisor. That is the path to sales success.
This is harder than it seems for so many reasons. First it's really hard to get the CEO's or a senior VP's time. They have gatekeepers. Then when you do, you have to be able to add value quickly, or they will push you aside for more pressing issues. Let's face it, if you are not selling high-end business services or a really important product the big boss will not pay attention to you.
And even if they do pay attention, often they will refer you downwards. The new person you deal with may resent the boss meddling in their department.
Seth Godin, in his recent post (If you could meet one person...) made it all clearer to me. You should be calling the person who can make things happen... the one who will buy or influence the buy... the one who is not a bureaucrat, sitting on the fence and wasting your time... someone who takes calculated risks and is willing to try something new (your product or service).
There are people in every successful organization who get things done. The one you need is not necessarily at the top. You need someone you can build a relationship with... someone who will care about you and someone who cares about what you are selling.
Call the person who makes things happen. Call high enough.