Another valuable piece of information in a sales guide is a hierarchy of managers who make the decision about whether or not to buy a product. The overwhelming majority of businesses have such a hierarchy whether the business develops software, publishes books, or runs grocery stores, and the managers on each level must be approached appropriately because their responsibilities and concerns are very different.
Why Decision Maker Information Is Important to Writers
Information about the managers involved in product decisions is important for writers because the pieces written for each level need to provide different amounts of detail and address different issues.
To illustrate this with our SecureFlush example, I will provide information about the Chief Facilities Officer (the highest executive level), the Bathroom Operations Manager (middle management), and the Bathroom Administrators. I will quickly describe their roles, responsibilities, activities, and focus, which is the information normally included in a sales guide.
Management Level Example
Chief Facilities Officer
Role: Responsible executive – Approver
Responsibility: Responsible for all bathroom resources and their integration with overall corporate facilities strategy
Activities: Sets overall corporate facilities policy and budget
Focus: Concerned with corporate bathroom standards, overall bathroom efficiency and availability, and overall bathroom management costs
Bathroom Operations Manager
Role: Primary user – Decision Maker
Responsibility: Responsible for overall management of bathroom resources
Activities: Sets security, air quality, supplies, equipment, and usage strategies based on corporate need and budget considerations
Focus: Concerned with maintaining continuous system availability and throughput for mission-critical bathroom activities
Role: Primary or Secondary User – Influencer
Responsibility: Assures that bathrooms are maintained consistent with corporate policies
Activities: Performs bathroom monitoring to ensure high level of both performance and availability
Focus: Concerned with the time required to monitor, detect, analyze, and resolve problems when they occur
Management Level Discussion
Salespeople generally try to speak to the “approver” level first, if they can, because the person on this level must okay the purchase. Writers need to concentrate on high-level benefits in pieces for this person, along with testimonials (especially from companies that are the prospect’s competitors) and specifics like cost-savings and customer satisfaction. Anything about integration with other types of “facilities” (if available) is also helpful since this person oversees many related areas such as the cafeterias, elevators, parking lots, etc.
For the lowest level (administrator), writers need to provide lots of details, such as specific features along with benefits. Ease of use is particularly important because this is the person at this level that actually uses the product most often.
Pieces for middle management need to strike a balance between the level of information for executives and administrators. This person is interested in his or her area as a whole running smoothly and efficiently, and not with the very lowest level of detail. Emphasis should be placed on benefits, with some information about features. Information about efficiency and cost savings are important because this person must often “sell” the product purchase to the executive level and so needs to be given as much support as possible in doing that.