PROBLEM # 1- NOBODY "gets" it all, let alone DOES it all.
Yes, establishing presence and building executive-style relationships are important. Being able to understand and address executive KPIs is critical. And being able to effectively converse in executive language to communicate the unique business value you can bring is crucial. But no one of these things is nearly enough. And frankly, the "training" you get from most of these companies, while sufficient for lower to upper-middle management sales, is not equally applicable at senior/executive levels.
WHY? Largely because the vast majority of "sales trainers" have little or no real business experience, let alone account-level and higher sales experience. And even MORE significantly, they have never BOUGHT anything. Which leads to....
PROBLEM #2- They're teaching you from the WRONG side of the table.
You've heard me say it before--
”If you want to know why John Smith buys WHAT John Smith buys,
you have to see the world through John Smiths eyes.”
Most sales trainers are great trainers. Some were even sales professionals themselves at one time-- though that's no guarantee they were successful. But very, very few were ever C-LEVEL BUYERS. There names may be Zig Ziglar or Brian Tracy, but almost NEVER are they the fore-mentioned "John Smith."
In my "sales" career, I have successfully carried over 1/2 billion dollars of quota and hit or surpassed my quarterly target 48 out of 50 consecutive quarters. But of more value to you as a sales professional targeting the upper tier of executive sales, I have PURCHASED over 1/2 billion dollars of goods and services over the course of my "executive" career. I AM John Smith.
Corner Office Conversations has been a place for me to share my thoughts primarily about how to "talk" to a C-level executive, understanding his or her KPIs and communicating in the appropriate "language" to enhance your value and credibility. I'd like to expand our conversation a bit to address the overall challenge of achieving true credibility with the C-Suite-- based on an insider’s perspective. NOT what some trainer or even another successful sales professional has researched, experienced or observed, but what my colleagues and I are actually thinking on the buyer's side of the table-- and what we say about you amongst ourselves after the meeting is over (it’s not always pretty).
In my next post we’ll begin to really see "why the CEO buys what the CEO buys-- through the CEOs eyes."
C-Level Executives are Smart. And Busy. C-Level execs look at a potential purchasing decisions the same way as anyone else-- WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?). And frankly, they couldn’t care less about what YOU have to sell. There are only a small handful of things that they really care about. If you have something to contribute on those issues, they're all ears. If not, they last thing they want to hear is another self-serving “pitch.”
So what does a CEO or CFO care about? I’m not talking about on a personal level, but as part of his or her job. And to get there, he or she must have been pretty good at it. Pretty focused. And 95 times out of 100 the CEO, COO and CFO are going to be most highly focused on the financial performance of the company relative to the goals and objectives serving the shareholders.
So that should be easy, right? More sales, more profits—what else is there?
If it was really that simple, do you think those execs would be pulling down the big bucks? First of all, depending on current status, investor/shareholder/market expectations, different organizations will have totally different financial objectives. Market leader in a mature market? Protecting profit margins probably is a high priority. Well-funded start-up in a new and promising space? Growth may be more important for the time being. Capital-intensive, low margin megabusiness? Reducing debt ratios might be high on the list.
To gain the credibility necessary to a) get a C-Level exec’s attention and b) keep it for more than 30 seconds, you need to do better than that.
First of all, you have to truly have a desire to help them succeed personally and professionally. No, really. I’m serious. The superficial, “who loves you baby, let’s do lunch,” approach will not work at this level. They’ll see right through it.
Secondly, you have to be able to let them know how you’re going to help them succeed-- in the context of what they care about and in the language that they understand. If you can summarize that in 30 seconds-- and if you’re lucky-- you’ll get another 10-15 minutes to go into detail. Once you actually get that golden opportunity to meet the "top dog," you'd better know what to say, and even more importantly HOW TO SAY IT.
And that’s what Corner Office Conversations is all about.