Successful Key Account Managers know the importance of building a wide network of contacts within their accounts. Part 1 looked at the financial buyer who will sign off the funding for the purchase, let’s now look at some of the other key players:
The user buyers
Top management are pushing decision making further down the organisation, as a result of both empowerment and the delayering of organisations. In addition, no managing director wants to make a major purchase without the support and cooperation of those who will use it. So as well as the financial buyer you must talk to the user buyers, the people within the account who will use or manage the use of your product or service.
User buyers are very important. They have to like your product/service, cooperate with it, agree with it and learn to use it. They may not have much authority, but they have a great deal of influence.
Be tuned into users. They will be asked what they want before ant major decision is taken. Ignore them at your peril.
The internal adviser
So far so good, but the mere fact that you have played the game well up to this point doesn’t mean you can rest easy, because now comes along the inevitable internal adviser.
This is the person or persons within the account who will make recommendations to the financial and user buyers. They will make judgements about the quality and suitability of your product and services. Their role is to provide advice about the best solution. They can’t say yes but they can say no.
About 12 years ago my company attempted to sell a sales programme to a major brewery. We targeted the sales director, identified his requirements and presented our solution. He seemed delighted, but we didn’t get the business.
Some time afterwards we realised our error. No one had spoken to the brewery training manager, who felt slighted at not being involved.
Ask yourself ‘who will the decision maker turn to internally for advice?’ Someone must cover that base.
Organisations have slimmed down to such an extent that expertise in certain areas is no longer available internally. Instead it is hired in when required. Consultants are frequently asked to assist companies with important purchases.
However, many salespeople treat consultants poorly. I recall a consultant attending one of our key account management workshops who stood up and told the group that salespeople usually treated him badly, with a looking down their nose, ‘Who are you?’ kind of attitude.
We asked him what would happen if salespeople asked for his help. He said, ‘They’d be miles ahead of their competition.’
The best way to handle a consultant is to call them, meet them and ask for their help and guidance early in the sale. That way they feel they don’t have to come back at the end and justify their existence by saying No!’.
The LDL Account Mapping Guide is an excellent way of mapping the decision influencers on-screen and is included as part of our open and in-company Key Account Management programmes.