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Understanding Your Customer's Time Scope

by Doug Davidoff | Sep 24, 2010 6:34:37 AM

Most organizational charts are broken down, and viewed, from the perspective of position and authority.  While this can be very helpful in developing sales strategy, an even better way to break it down is by what I refer to as their “time scope.”

For some people, one week is a long-term, while others spend little time thinking about anything happening in less than two years.  Here is an example (albeit oversimplified) of how typical levels break down to time scope:

Level Time Scope
Senior Executives Beyond a year
Upper Management 6 mos – 1 year
Middle Management 3 – 6 mos.
Front Line Management 1 month
Front Line 1 Day – 1 Week

When you have a clear picture of your customer’s time scope, you’ll be able to gain insight into what it is they really worry about, where the value you can create lies, and whether the issues you are dealing with are big enough to get them to change their approach.

Looking at your customer from this perspective also aids you when you are selling to smaller companies where individuals (especially owners, CEOs, and other executives) play more than one role.  Knowing their natural scope can be a great advantage.

The longer your buyer’s time scope is, the more opportunity there is for you to create value and radically differentiate the results you can provide.  Shorter time scopes significantly limit, or even eliminate, any opportunity to differentiate yourself in a meaningful way.

Unless you are selling a pure commodity, your first “sale” is to ensure that you are talking with the person with the proper time scope.