In a small business, office managers are likely to handle purchasing, human resources and even information technology. In many cases, unless you direct your sales and marketing approach to the office manager, you may be talking to the wrong person. Or, by ignoring the office manager, you could end up alienating someone who influences the purchasing decision. A recent Staples survey highlights how crucial it is to understand the role of the office manager. Over 8,000 office managers responded in the Staples survey listing the job functions they performed. Those functions go well beyond stereotypical notions of clerical work. As an example: almost 75% of the survey respondents said that in addition to being the office manager, they acted as their office's human resources manager. So if you have a human-resources related product or service -- such as temporary employment services, benefits, background checks, HR software, payroll services -- the office manager may be playing an influential role in any purchasing decisions. In fact, the office manager may be the main decision-maker. The survey results square with something that small business expert Andy Birol told me in an interview a few months ago. He listed "ignoring the office manager" as one of the top five mistakes when selling to small businesses. See the Staples office manager survey results here.