There was a time not too long ago when buying authority used to be proportioned throughout an organization based upon that company's organizational chart. Managers were authorized to make small purchase decisions and vendor selections. Directors made slightly larger decisions, and so on up the hierarchy. All this changed when companies everywhere were hit with the zombie virus outbreak known as Procurement. (At least that's how I describe it.)
The virus has many strains-;procurement, purchasing, reverse-auction, RFPs and so on. Unfortunately it has removed the authority of middle level managers to make any individual purchase decision or vendor selections.
So, what do you do when you're trying to sell to one of these powerless middle managers? Whenever possible, avoid them as a point of initial contact. After all, they are zombies. If that doesn't work, try one of these strategies:
1. Become efficient at handling lots of small transactions. Amazon is a great representation of this model. By becoming the most effective processor of many small orders, you will be able to grow through the sheer volume of purchases made by the lower level managers who are still able to make these decisions.
2. Become an expert at the competitive bidding process. Whether you are dealing with RFPs or reverse auctions, companies who become great at completing forms and operating in tightly defined parameters are in a good position to make money.
3. Learn how to solve big problems for big people. Getting the attention of true decision-makers in a post-zombie world is hard. It helps if you are able to become an expert in their industry and know everything about the marketplace and your competitors. By offering insights into their business problems you can then lay out how you will solve those problems.
As I look at my bookshelf at all the books on selling, I see that most were written for the pre-zombie era. It was cutting edge stuff back in the day. Unfortunately, those tools were aimed at hitting as high as you can inside of a company's middle-tier of buyers. Now that the zombies have control of the middle, you will need to aim for different buyers. One of the tecniques above may be the solution.