Identifying Who You Are Selling To Is Key, Not Just How You Sell

It was brilliant. It had a rip-tape case, which saves time stacking shelves. He presented it to the buyer and got: “Yeah, all right, but you should tell the bloke over there.” So he went to the logistics office and explained the genius behind the new boxes: “Nice but whaddaya want me to do? Tell marketing.” So he went higher up, and rang the marketing director’s office to be told: “Contact the buyer”!

So many ideas and concepts have wide-reaching benefits for our customers, and so often suppliers can’t get this across. It’s not just what we say and how we say it. Very often it’s who we see and how often we see them. We need to get close to the organisation, not just the buyer.

With large organisations, there can be many issues in many levels and departments. With planning you can choreograph the right messages into the right place at the right time to maximise impact and persuasion. Ex-army types compare it to getting the resources right around the battlefield, versus the tactics of what happens on the battlefield. I call it Organisational Selling.

Different decisions are made by different people. When helping suppliers to plan sales, I’ve discovered that they only rarely know who the real decision maker is for a given objective. It’s always someone more senior than they think, or someone who spans more departments. Once this ‘decision owner’ is identified, you can figure out who has their ear. In many cases, the buyer is only one of many influencers rather than the key person. Typically, beyond the buyer, suppliers don’t know the roles that exist, never mind the individuals in them.

Sophisticated sales organisations for major suppliers train the skills of ‘account penetration’ from an early age, building on this with organisational selling models. In a recent launch, the supplier influenced 67 people in Tesco to get impact. Do you know even six people at your top customer? This influence builds, and these suppliers can set the agenda with retailers. Not because they are the only ones with great ideas, but because they are the ones with influence.

Organisational selling can transform sales results. When you present the new rip-tape case you want to hear the buyers say: “I knew this was coming, no problem”.

Sentinel Management Consultants deliver sales, negotiation, planning and finance training courses for our clients worldwide.