Boise Automation Canada Ltd.: The Lost Order at Northern Paper (A) (Revised)
(5 pages of text)
Case (Gen Exp)
A senior account manager at Boise Automation Canada Ltd. was disappointed with the news that he had just lost the $1.2 million order with Northern Paper Inc. (Northern), a paper mill. The opportunity was to design, supply, and install an automated control system for Northern’s wood-chip handling system. He had over 20 years’ experience selling automation systems in heavy industry, and had he won the order it would have easily put him over his target quota for 2011 and significantly boosted his incentive payout. Now, with less than three months before the end of the year, he was unlikely to meet his target for the year. The senior account manager wanted to understand what had gone wrong, and to learn from the experience in order to avoid repeating it. What should he have done differently? See supplement 9B15A029
This B2B case describes the account manager’s seven-month sales process and the customer’s buying process that led to the lost order. It is an excellent case to explore organizational buying behaviour, the discipline of the selling process, and the management of sales resources (time) as an asset. It can be included in an introductory marketing course at the MBA or undergraduate level. It is equally effective for executive development. It also fits in a B2B marketing course to explore organizational buying behaviour, or in the introduction module in a sales management course. Key learning points include:
- Organizational buying is a disciplined process. It often involves several people in a decision-making unit (DMU). The decision makers and influencers usually have different perspectives, levels of influence and decision-making authority, and buying criteria.
- Selling is a disciplined process that must include the many influences in the DMU. Without an understanding of the buying process, DMU players, and their criteria, a sales representative is ineffective.
- Selling is an investment of finite time and resources. It is a disciplined process of allocating time where the likelihood of success lies. Not all opportunities are equally attractive or should be pursued. Selling is a process of balancing, tactical action, information gathering, and analysis.
- Gathering information about a customer’s buying criteria and influences in the DMU is difficult.
- There are strategic options to consider when designing a sales process. The process should support the sales strategy driven by the marketing plan.
Canada, Large, 2011
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