Why Selling to the Top Can Leave You At The Bottom

If you’re in sales, you may have heard that you want to get to the top.  Why bother with people who can’t make decisions?

And then you attend a sales training session where you hear of the latest clever selling tactics.  How to get around the gatekeeper.  How to bypass everyone else and get right to the CEO.

You’ve heard some of it before:

  • Call just before or after business hours in the hopes the assistant isn’t yet on duty and the phone rings in the executive’s office.
  • Sweet-talk the executive assistant.
  • Be vague, misleading or yes, even lie in order to make it to the CEO or the highest executive you can.

I’m filled with empathy for the sales profession.  After all, my first corporate job was in sales.  (I was also a lawyer, so that may have made me the most hated guy around: a lawyer salesman?)

Whenever possible I enjoy answering my own phone, especially if I know it’s a sales call.  I’ve stunned sales people who are stammering on the other end of the line.  One guy was so ready to give his misleading lines to an assistant that he literally hung up when he realized he already had me on the line.

But, this post isn’t about how to sell to the CEO.  This is about when to sell to the CEO and when not to sell to the CEO or C Suite.

Here’s the problem with the “sell to the top” theory that most trainers don’t understand:

It can be a waste of time.

You can spend all kinds of time trying to reach someone in the C-Suite instead of identifying the person most interested in your product or service.  Let’s say I’m the CEO at a large company, and you call me about office supplies.  The fact is that there’s likely someone in charge of this area, and it isn’t the CEO.  Do you think that the CEO is going to listen to your presentation and then command the purchasing department to override all protocols and buy staplers and highlighters from you?

It can hurt your chances.

Shape Your Company’s Future

 

Are you confident in your company’s future?

How do you rate your business strategy?

Is your team engaged in the creation of your plan?

Are you staying ahead of the competition and creating a sustainable advantage?

 Shape Your Future

“Strategy is about shaping the future.”

That’s the opening line in The Strategy Book by Max Mckeown.  In a logical, straightforward manner, Max walks readers through strategic principles and best practices in a way that educates the novice and the well-practiced strategist alike.  Whether you are a CEO or a new team leader, Max provides helpful tools and checklists to improve your strategic plan.

Max Mckeown is an author of several best-selling, award winning books. He’s also a sought-after speaker on subjects ranging from competitive advantage to strategy to leadership.  He holds an M.B.A. and Ph.D. from Warwick Business School in England.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Max about strategic best practices.

What’s the biggest misconception about creating a strategy?

Strategy isn’t a document. Some people believe that it is. And that’s probably why so many hard-working people roll their eyes when the strategy word is mentioned. Specifically, strategy is not leaders spending a million dollars on thick documents produced by outsiders to which insiders must align.-

You’ve met thousands of managers and leaders in businesses around the world.  When you meet a team, what attributes are present when you find an exceptionally high-performing team?

Strategy is about shaping the future. Perhaps this is why the roll-up-your-sleeves, get-things-done kind of people are often impatient with anything remotely connected to the word strategic. They want results. They tend to ignore the want-to-see-the-bigger-picture kind of people they see as daydreamers.

Would Your Client Write You a Check After Your Sales Presentation?

 

Would your prospect write a check for your sales call?

Read that title again.

What?

You’re thinking you want the sale.  You don’t expect to get a check for the call.  You’re lucky to have gotten the appointment.

Neil Rackham is the author of many books like Spin Selling, Rethinking the Sales Force and a number of other books.  Years ago, when I was a new sales executive, Neil spoke at one of our meetings.  After his presentation, he met with a small group of us.  Most of the discussion I’ve long forgotten, but I’ve never forgotten this question.

Bring Incredible Value

He asked:

“Is your sales call so valuable that your client would write a check for your visit?”

He obviously wasn’t suggesting we collect checks after every client meeting.  But he was saying that we should bring value to the call.  More value than a sales pitch.  We should do our homework and be able to offer solutions to the client beyond simply closing a deal.

Provoking Thoughts With Tremendous Books

Photo by shutterhacks on flickr.

This is a guest post by Aamir Musharraf who leads the “Read to Succeed” program for Tremendous Life Books. He has worked with AOL/Time Warner and Gannett on various literacy programs.

Books have been my greatest mentors. My personal “search for meaning” initiated with Dr. Victor Frankl and culminated with Charlie “Tremendous” Jones.

For more than 50 years, Charlie was on a mission to help people improve their lives through reading. His worlds of wisdom touched my life. Getting people to read quality books that have the power to change lives has become my personal passion. In his book, Life is Tremendous, Charlie wrote that there are three great decisions in life:

3 Great Decisions

  1. Who are you going to live your life with?
  2. What are you going to live your life in?
  3. And what are you going to live your life for?

 

Who are you going to live your life with?

What are you going to live your life in?

And what are you going to live your life for?

 

I was 17 when I decided to settle in America, 27 when I asked a beauty queen doctoral student in Nashville to be my wife (Thank God she agreed!), and 37 when I discovered my calling to promote literacy. I believe that illiteracy is the greatest evil that confronts mankind. It creates darkness from within, a cancer of dis-empowerment, scarcity, despair, and anger. But knowledge overcomes all.Charles Jones 4

Simplify Your Life

Copyright Skip Prichard

The Beauty of the Simple

Sam Davidson met me one January day in a hip new coffee shop in Nashville.  As he shared stories about his life and his books, I listened intently while still managing to watch the painting and construction of a stage.  (If you’re in Nashville, this is a requirement.)  As my schedule allows, I try to meet interesting people in person to learn their stories.  Sam is an author, speaker and the cofounder of Cool People Care.5Mfd3lB_0xfSiuGZavtpq0wOpP9xhONr197wV2mw6uo,Bdyzc_sNHB0bFZOu1V7NWtzpLmLj4J0wLM6I03w0Fsg

Leaving the little café, I tucked the book Sam gave me under my arm and made my way back to my car.  Not needing much sleep, I average a book a day.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that I’m sent so many books, I can’t keep up with them.  But any book with tips on reducing stress has to go right to the top of the pile.  I found a very practical and somewhat surprising book on how to Simplify Your Life.

I decided to follow-up with Sam to talk about his ideas on how to live a simple life.

Determine your values and passions

Sam, you have a very different approach to simplifying life.  When I first saw the book cover, I thought “minimalism.”  Any thoughts of minimalist advice were quickly cast aside when I saw your first chapter begins with the words, “Down with Minimalism.”  You say, “Minimalism is boring.”

What is minimalism and why is that not the right place to start?

Minimalism puts the focus on quantity, perhaps to a fault. In the rush to minimize, I fear we miss out on a reflective or introspective process that gets to the heart of why it is we have too much stuff or feel too stressed. Instead, I encourage people to first determine their values and passions. Then, everything that doesn’t enable or enhance one of those can go.

Eliminate things that don’t match your purpose

Getting rid of things for the sake of minimalism may mean we miss out on a valuable tool needed to achieve a great dream. Furthermore, if all we have helps makes us better, the amount of things around us matters less since it’s all beneficial and important.