The next level of account management within our accounts is called the Core Level. The department managers that we will be calling on in our accounts are found in this level. Some of the examples of these departments are manufacturing, plant operations, environmental services, security, food service, and sales, to name a few. These department managers are required to accomplish the goals that come down from the C-Level above, especially in the areas of increasing productivity and decreasing expenses. They constantly hear that they must “get more done with less.”
The primary concerns of Core Level managers are solving problems in their operations NOW! They must find new ways to become more productive, yet stay within their operating budgets. Many of these department budgets are often severely cut depending upon the results of the company.
Department managers are always looking to their suppliers to find new ways to help improve overall operations. Innovation is important to them. A department manager is thinking, “If you have a way to help me get more done with less, then I need to speak with you.” Sales calls on these department managers should focus on solving the challenges faced by the managers. Our questioning needs to hone in on issues that they are dealing with on a daily basis. Stay away from product-based questions initially, and concentrate on what is happening out on the floor that adds to delays, interferes with productivity and causes waste.
Some of the best sales calls I ever had with department managers were the ones where I used a “team selling” approach. I have brought marketing people, R & D managers, as well as technical people from the customer service department into accounts from the home office to meet with my clients. I would introduce both people to one another and set the stage by reviewing my last sales call with this manager. Not only did this bring my home office person up to speed, but it also brought the department manager up to speed. (Remember, we are not the only sales people that this manager sees each month. While they will remember who we are and who we represent, our exact conversation from a week or so ago is not fresh in their minds.) Once these introductions are completed and a review is conducted, the sales call is “turned over” to the home office person and my customer, while I become an involved-spectator. I have always had very positive results using a “team selling” approach.