A “top – down” approach to selling our accounts will allow us to manage the account in two directions. In a vertical direction, we can flow from one level of company officer to another with little to no difficulty. In a horizontal direction, we can easily flow from one department manager to another also with little difficulty, due to the fact that we started at or near the top of the organizational chart when we first penetrated the account. If I know the owner or President of a company and that person suggests that I introduce myself to his or her Vice President or Operations Manager, this starts me on the road to sales success in the account.
Granted, it’s more difficult to penetrate accounts at the top, but while it may take longer to accomplish than if we were to introduce ourselves to someone in Purchasing, it is much more rewarding. Our average sales will be larger and our margins will be equally larger, due to the fact that our selling occurs at the proper level within the account. Ultimately we will be selling to department managers who use our products on a daily basis and have the specific challenges that our products and systems address. At this level, price is less of a consideration, because it is normally offset by a customer’s need for quality and performance.
Whenever I am attempting to meet top-level buyers in my accounts, my initial approach is a simple one. I am usually asking for ten minutes of their time so that I can introduce myself and my company to them, describe how I work with my customers, and show them how we are different.
My purpose here is to be personally introduced to lower level buyers within the account – the people who actually use our products, but who are often very busy and could be difficult to get to see. When I’m introduced to any lower-level buyers as a result of a contact with upper level management, there is NEVER a problem getting in to see them. At the end of this introductory meeting, I always tell my buyer that I would like to maintain contact with them from time to time. I ask them which method they would prefer that I use to contact them: phone, or email, or personal note. (You will see how I use this piece of information in another blog that will talk about conducting a sales meeting with a lower-level department manager within the company.)
Next up, I will review the different types of buying influences that exit in all of our accounts.