TOP Level Selling
Selling strategically means not only convincing one contact person with the customer particularly at greater projects but the enterprise as a whole. At this it is necessary to overcome hierarchy levels and to get in there where the decision actually makes. This must not be the much lectured "Top Down Selling" during the seventies. At the team orientation spread today often in the enterprises "Bottom up" is necessary as well to include the later users in the decision-making process. It is, however, fact that many sales persons are afraid of it to look the contact high. On the other hand many sales persons don't believe that particularly top decider need unfiltered information to decide correctly.
David A. Peoples brings an interesting example to this in his Book "Selling to the Top":
After an important loss the top manager arranged a meeting with the top decider. Nobody in his enterprise has ever this person during the sales conversations met or called at him. The top manager said to the decision maker: "We would like to understand, why you selected the rival product despite of the unique advantages of our product and listed these advantages. To what the decision maker replied: "I wished somebody had this told to me 30 days ago."
Before you look for an appointment, you must answer the following question without hesitating:
What is the target for this conversation?
Mostly, who doesn't have any good answer here already fails with the secretary ("what are the concrete reasons to have an appointment with....")
So about what would you talk to the top decider?
Top managers of IBM customers said in an interview that they expect first excellent knowledge of their enterprise, their line of business and the surroundings in which they make business. Only secondly they expect a sales person to understand his products and services.
So this primarily indicates preparation, preparation, and again preparation. If the first conversation should become a flop you never will get a second chance! At first so you must intensively ask about the enterprise of your potential customer: Business reports, web pages, image brochures, press publications, but ideally you win a person out of the surroundings of the top manager as a mentor who supports you. This can be absolutely from a lower hierarchical level since the access usually is found easier here. And now you should be prepared to ask the right questions, primarily according to the "Critical success factors".
Critical success factors are those few things which must run absolutely correctly in an enterprise if it shall have success and prosper. You can count out the critical success factors at the fingers of one hand in most enterprises. If these look good, the enterprise will prosper; if not, it will go down. All other things might be average.
The following functions are ascribed to critical success factors:
- They provide a management main emphasis.
- They serve as a catalyst for management activities.
- They define the threats and chances for the enterprise.
- They make it possible for an enterprise to assess his strengths and weaknesses.
- They provide an orientation of the resources possible with the plans.
- They define the information desire of the enterprise.
One the next page you will find some examples of questions to managers of different areas:
- Goals and
- Opinions of customers (the opinions of customers are always an important issue)
Production and logistics
- Stock turn
- Trash rate
- Delayed Deliveries
Finance & administration
- Profit margins
- Price-/Earning relation
- Cash flow
- Deprecation of claims
- Tax regulations
Research and development
- Development cycle
- Marketing Focus
Marketing and sales
- Competitive situation
- Sales cycle
- Market share
- Product differentiation
- Price elasticity
- Customer service
- Administrative work
- Rate of absenteeism
- Labor market
- Moral of the workers
- Wage settlements