2020: By Mr Mark Walsh, Senior Business Consultant for Flex2B

Meeting the Customer Decision Makers

During our last training we took the part steps of exploring:

    • Why Flex2B is the solution for the customer
    • Why we are the team to deliver Flex2B to the customer

Today we will explore the customer decision makers we may meet

    • Who are they?
    • What will they be looking for?
    • What questions to expect from them?

Suggested answers for these questions.

    • What might alienate them from next steps?

Customer decision makers and their influence on next step decisions will vary depending on customer scale and structures.

Although stakeholder relevance will vary by customer we recognize them and be ready for them all.

Customer decision makers may include:

    • Owner Manager(s)
    • Financial Controllers
    • Business Analysts
    • Operations Warehousing Managers
    • Compliance professionals
    • Growing/Supply chain partners partners
    • Entry Level Operatives
    • Retail Partners

The Owner manager

    • Possibly easier than other audiences as you may not have to sell to more than one person.
    • This may vary as the size and scale of the customer increases.
    • The owner manager may also be your toughest sell as it will be his / her
    • Own money being spent

      • (S)He will want all stakeholders satisfied and on board
      • Return on investment will be of prime importance
      • Total cost of ownership
      • Control, framing and scaling the business
      • Accessibility for all- buy in at all levels
      • Mobilization  with minimum disruption
      • Expectations may have to be managed from the outset

    • Owner managers like all of us have different personalities, differing skillsets, and may have differently weighted priorities.
    • Best Listening is an essential tool for providing a best fit solution on any site.
    • The following may turn off the owner manager instantly:

      • Over comparison with other sites
      • Technical or Jargon talk – depending on their background
      • Failure to identify a realistic road map to mobilization
      • Over mentioning details specific to other sites
      • Total cost of ownership 
      • Failing to “put him in the car”
      • Not clearly identifying and calling for next steps

The Financial Controller

    • Possibly easier to win here once an attractive, approximate, relevant return on investment to total cost of ownership ratio is agreed.
    • Not always easy to excite one from an accounting background with new technologies.

      • (S)he will want approximate total cost of ownership
      • Understandable overview of Return on investment
      • Connectivity to existing business softwares
      • Control, framing and scaling the business
      • Graded Accessibility for all levels
      • Mobilization  with minimum disruption
      • Time and money budgets across all business units
      • Convincing that skills are available from the outset

    • The financial usually controller has inputs and expects certain results across business units.
    • However he/she may have hugely varying understandings and interests across all business units.
    • This person not usually afraid to demand required detail and may be forensic by nature.
      • (S)He may respond better to sticking to facts
      • Don’t alienate by moving from their comfort zone
      • Will usually have and ask specific incisive questions
      • May not be concerned with requirements of others
      • May not be excited by novelty, technology or other.
      • Easier confirm a spend when financial controller agreeable
      • May be selfish re skills / input required for success.

The Business Analyst

    • The analyst is usually more open to exploration and curiosity.
    • Will have definite site specific expectations.
    • Very possibly hungry for extending current possibilities for data collection.
      • Data collection possibilities throughout process flows
      • Suggested reporting formats and interfaces important
      • Accessibility to have control of the evolution
      • Usually concerned with buy in and accessibility for all
      • Most likely open to suggestions not traditional beforehand.
      • May be helpful with cost vs. return suggestions
      • May also have a network of potential customers
      • Usually capable of most steps if walked through correctly

    • The analyst most likely to have looked at details of the business across all business units.
    • Ignore his/ her experience at your peril

      • Be careful to listen to his/her full story
      • May not always be technically excellent
      • May need to be reassured of new interfaces
      • Best to let them lead initially and follow thoroughly
      • Introduce all innovations and suggestions here
      • Good person to start with usually
      • Real opportunity to sound out all business units with him/her 

The Operations / Pack house Manager

    • Will have interests wherever he/she has people or processes.
    • Usually their opinion will carry weight at decision time.
      • Will want solution best fit with his/ her people
      • More interested in planning and results
      • May understand protocols for best success
      • Best help usually for mapping processes to application
      • Introduce all possibilities here
      • Will have experience standing up people/ money spends

    • His/ her people will span from entry level to top users.
    • Can be invaluable to gaining site specific insight to securing spend
      • Explore all steps with them
      • Don’t want any disruptive surprises during mobilization
      • Discuss all the nuts and bolts details as necessary
      • Do not ignore their picture of company operations 

Compliance Professionals

    • Rarely will a spend be approved without them.

Their enquiries usually follow a standard and are quantifiable and can include the following:

      • Managing intakes
      • Recording Quality, Production, H&S checks etc
      • Managing supplier and own certifications
      • Meeting customer requirements 
      • Delivering site specific goals

    • Not always the most flexible of stakeholders.

This is not a personal comment as sometimes with customers, business owners and regulatory bodies they have no room to manouvre:

      • Record their requirements 
      • Avoid mention/ confusion with other jurisdictions
      • Meet their team in its entirety if possible
      • Deliver big on the interface for their inputs

Other Stakeholders

    • Partner Growers
    • Customers/ Retail Partners
    • Sister Sites
    • Entry Level Operatives