Quick review: there are Three Levels of Management within the Student role you play during Step 1 of the Buying Process. The three levels of Management are: CEO, Core Level, and the Support Level. If you can reach and do business with the CEO, you will discuss issues of competitiveness, cost cutting and efficiencies, and you will like be holding better margins.
Core Level management is interested in solving problems NOW and maximizing Key Success Factors, those areas which contribute most effectively to the organization’s overall ability to succeed function to function. We also discussed the ways to contact Core Level managers and determine which have influence and which have authority without influence. The overall recommendation was to find influential sponsors who will sell your message to the Core managers in various relevant departments.
Now we look at the Support Level of Management, which is the bottom level providing support to the CEO and the Core levels.
Support level reacts to the needs of upper management. It includes areas like purchasing, legal, training and accounting. If you are dealing with a purchasing type in Support you will likely find an emphasis on the most machine for the money and consequently margins begin to shrink. This is the price-driven or “Transactional Sale.” Engaging business at this level is a Win-Lose: the purchasing agent is looking for the most machine at the lowest price. He wins. You lose.
To find big problems, which yield big sales with healthy margins, you need to be talking to CEO and Core level managers because these larger problems and longer view issues are their natural habitat.
How to be a Good Student: Change how you think. Forget your product. Imagine you work for the customer. Imagine you are selling for your customer. Walk two miles in his moccasins. This way you begin to focus on his goals and concerns.
If your product helps him expand his business and solves problems, price is no longer the top issue.
For example, a copier rep trying to sell a machine to an owner of an ice cream store. At first the reps pitches features and benefits. Customer could care less about copy quality and speed and so forth.
Then the rep imagined he was selling ice cream for the man. He started asking questions. In the process he learned that the man sold ice cream to local retail outlets, but he wanted to expand and provide specialty desserts to restaurants.
The rep then suggested that the man get the logos of all the restaurants he wanted to work with, and produce customized menus of ice cream products to be sold through each establishment. The man immediately loved the idea, bought the copier at retail and implemented the new marketing plan. The rep had created a solution to enhance the man’s business and that solution required the rep’s product.