Selling to the C-Suite

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In a previous post, I shared my opinions on selling to the top of an organization and why it isn’t always the best route to success.

There are obviously times when selling to the top is not only smart, but it’s required. Recently, I was asked about how to approach busy professionals with an idea, product, or service. If you are selling to senior executives, here are a few guidelines that may prove helpful.

 

“Stop selling. Start helping.” –Zig Ziglar

Be prepared.

As a sales leader, knowing your own company and your product is a requirement.  Take it a step further.  You need to know our company, too. When someone obviously hasn’t so much as looked at the company’s Web site, he has already lost credibility.  Don’t flaunt your advanced preparation, but work in ways you think we will benefit from a relationship.

It applies on the phone, too.  I can’t tell you how many people who finally do get me on the line are not prepared.  If you’re ready for the gatekeeper, but not the person you’re targeting, here’s a hint:  Don’t make the call.  Do your homework.

 

“Timid salesmen have skinny kids.” –Zig Ziglar

 

Be clear.

Don’t launch into a stream of acronyms or nonsensical statements.  No, I’m not meeting with you for an hour to learn to “drive efficiencies throughout the organization, maximizing ROI and improving profits.”  Really.  We do that every day, and we know the business and you don’t.  So, be clear on what the benefit is to the organization.  Don’t use complex language designed to impress.

 

“Every sale has 5 basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.” –Zig Ziglar

 

Be crisp.

We’re all busy.  Don’t drag it out.  Most executives are incredibly busy and bottom-line oriented.  If you catch my attention, then you will have more leeway and time to make your case.

7 Brand Building Principles of the Best Brands

One bright color smiling pencil among bunch of gray sad pencils

Denise Lee Yohn knows what makes a brand great.  With twenty-five years of experience building some of the world’s greatest brands, she knows the strategies that work.  Whether Burger King, Land Rover, Jack-In-the-Box, Spiegel, or Sony Electronics, Denise has knows the principles that make a great brand.

“Make the small stuff your business.” -Denise Lee Yohn

 

If you think branding is a logo or an advertising campaign, think again.  You may think you don’t “do” branding, but then you will miss learning some incredibly important business ideas—because corporate branding means more, and all of us have a personal brand.

start inside

Denise, when most people think of branding, they think of a television commercial, an internet ad or a new logo.  It’s ironic to me that branding itself is not branded properly.  Your book completely redefines what great branding is.  Why do most people have the wrong impression about branding?

 

“Great brands ignore trends.” -Denise Lee Yohn

 

Branding actually refers to the practice of putting a symbol on a thing – ranchers used to brand their cattle with a unique mark to indicate their ownership.  The practice was then adopted by companies selling products.  They developed logos to put on their products to distinguish them and to signal which companies made them.  Over time these symbols became cues of product quality and meaning – people would assume a product from a particular company had a level of quality consistent with the company’s past or other products, and they would attribute some meaning to it when they associated the logo with it.   Marketers worked hard to develop compelling logos and strong positive associations with them. DLYohn Headshot Portrait 2013

So technically the understanding of branding as a business practice is still correct, but it’s clear that the value of branding has diminished.  It’s no longer enough to develop a creative logo or to launch clever marketing campaigns to express what your brand stands for.  Companies must execute on their brand identities too.  Today’s savvy customers can see through a branding veneer, so a company must translate its brand vision into customer reality.

Let’s touch on a few of your branding principles to give a flavor for your unique approach to brand-building.  The first is great brands start inside—with culture.  Why is organizational culture the starting point?

Culture is the necessary first step when you want to define or re-define your brand because culture is what ensures your employees understand and embrace what your brand stands for and understand their roles in interpreting and reinforcing your brand.  So great brands rally their people around common cultural values and use their brands to focus, align, and optimize the inner workings of their organizations.

This is a powerful video demonstrating the power of fiction.  Reading fiction is not just an entertaining escape.  It can change your point of view and give you a new perspective.  We are literally transformed through the power of story.

So, the next time someone snickers as you’re reading a thriller, remind him that you are doing your part to change the world.

How has fiction made an impact on your life?

Saying More With Less

From Point A To Point B

 

Have you ever tuned out in a meeting because the speaker is rambling?

Do you find your mind wandering when listening? 

What happens when someone does not get to the point?

 

Recently, I read BRIEF: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less by Joseph McCormack.  He is the founder of a boutique marketing agency, The Sheffield Company, with clients ranging from Harley-Davidson to MasterCard.  I had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the power of brevity.

 

Talk to the point and stop when you have reached it. –F.V. Irish

 

I love the message of this book.  In my interactions, I am constantly asking for headlines and bottom lines. Or I am famous for flipping to the last page of the PowerPoint to see where it all ends.  Why is brevity more important today than ever before?

We have passed the point where people can handle the volumes of information that’s headed their way. The result is a divided mind that is highly inattentive and constantly interrupted. The average attention span is now eight seconds, which is one second less than a goldfish. People that cannot get to the point and command others’ (in)attention face the real risk of being ignored and overlooked.

 

Simplicity is the glory of expression. –Walt Whitman

 

You discuss what you call the 7 Capital Sins that interfere with the goal.  In your work, have you seen one or two that consistently rank the highest for busy executives?

The 7 Capital Sins are: cowardice, confidence, callousness, comfort, confusion, complication, and carelessness. They represent the subtle, and often unconscious, sins that can keep up from being succinct naturally, and I go into them more in-depth and provide strategies to circumvent them in my book.

 

7 Capital Sins

  1. Cowardice
  2. Confidence
  3. Callousness
  4. Comfort
  5. Confusion
  6. Complication
  7. Carelessness

Confidence and comfort, in particular, are two sins committed often by professionals, particularly senior executives. When people are knowledgeable and have authority, they tend to be so confident that they want to share everything they know. Given their position of responsibility, those around them have little choice but to buckle themselves in for a long ride. In a similar vein, executives are proud and fall in love with the sound of their own voice. They get so comfortable that it’s like a snowball running down a steep hill.

 

Get to the point or pay the price. –Joseph McCormack

 

Storytelling is powerful.  Why does storytelling trump persuasion?