Powerful Sales Approach – Improve your selling success with the MAN

Expert AdviceImagine being in a position where you could increase the chances of you developing business with the same prospect clients you have now by a minimum of three fold. This tip walks through how. For those of you who have been classically trained (makes it sound like a piano!) in sales, you may well know what I am talking about when I recommend selling to the MAN. Step back from your day-to-day activities and answer this question:

Who do I want to sell to?

The answer to this is more specific than “big companies” or “smaller businesses” or “anyone who will listen”. What I mean is, whom in those types of organisations (if they are your quarry) do I wish to get in front of? Again, this is not necessarily directors or C suite execs or junior management.

What I am referring to is their role in the buying process:

There are 3 primary classifications I would put contacts into:

  • Decision makers – Those who make decisions along the recruitment process
  • Influencers – Those who have influence during the recruitment process
  • Moles – Those who have no real sway or decision making involvement but who may be able to give us valuable information to help make the job of getting in front of the other two easier.

Whether you have deliberately named these types of contacts most sales people are aware that different people have differing involvements in the buying process. We can subdivide the key decision makers further and it allows us to be in a position to speed up the time it takes us to generate sales from an organisation. How? Because we can identify the persons involvement in the buying process, recognise they may be interested in different things, and then sell to them accordingly.

Who is the “MAN”?


As a buying authority then, the MAN is all three, yet in today’s modern business quite often we find that the MAN is actually made up of more than one person. Quite often, in the larger organisation, it could be that the MAN is three different individuals (or more)!

So, in a recruitment context we can start to decide who may fulfil each role:

Typical M’s : Procurement, directors, senior managers and budget holders.

Typical A’s : HR, Internal recruitment and junior managers.

Typical N’s : Line managers, direct managers for the skills you recruit for.

The key consideration is this: To effectively develop business with an organisation we will greatly increase our chances by talking to more than one person and ensuring we sell to the MAN (which may be 3 different contacts!)

It may well transpire that mapping out an organisation we discover that it looks like this:


I have sat recently with sales consultants who have been “selling” to contacts within a business where they have been slightly off target with their message. This is due to a lack of consideration of who they were talking to and what that contact would be interested in discussing.

E.g. Talking to a line manager about when their PSL is due to be renewed and how to get on to it.

Talking to an HR assistant about the technical skills recruited for and the future plans within a specific department.

Calling an MD of a large organisation and asking them how they recruit.

All good ideas in terms of questions, terrible in terms of execution as aimed at completely the wrong people!

In summary – think about whom you need to talk to satisfy the MAN in your current target companies. Take some time to empathise with each contact and imagine what they would be specifically tasked with in a recruitment context. Discuss how you can help them in that area rather than having a one size fits all sales approach. I promise, you will sell more consistently and to a higher value.

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  1. MAN is a little “dated” although still in wide use. After MAN we had BANT Budget, Authority, Need and TIMELINES, to help focus the time horizons. (ie not to waste time now, on long term possibles)
    Variants on MAN for example SCOTSMAN(r) included Solution, Competition as well as Timelines.
    Know who needs it, who can buy it, what they want and when they want it still adds up to a Sales Opportunity. However you will find that the current Sales Force Automation and CRM will take a much more detailed view……

    Brian MacIver 28 June 2012 at 1:01 pm Permalink

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