Salespeople often fail to connect with and sell to the executive buyer because they don’t think like a CEO. Leaders buy from leaders and if you aren’t exhibiting the CEO behaviors and leadership thinking, the C-suite buyer will quickly dismiss you. Why would an executive want to engage with a salesperson that doesn’t understand the demands of running a division or organization?
Ask yourself the following questions to see if you think and act like a salesperson or a CEO.
- Are you the first in or last out? What time do you get to the office or start your day? If you are standing in line to order a latte at 8:00 am, you can bet your CEO thinking sales competitor has completed 20 calls by the time you’ve had your first sip! Great salespeople know the best time to reach the “C” suite is early in the morning or after 5:00 pm because the gatekeeper isn’t in and everyone else has gone home.
CEO’s know that hope is not a strategy. They have too many families counting on them for a paycheck. Top salespeople have the same attitude. When they aren’t hitting their revenue numbers, they do what it takes to get the job done. They think like a CEO.
One of my early sales managers always stressed the power of making one more call, one more stop, one more contact. It was always amazing to see how many times one more attempt paid off in setting an appointment or finalizing a deal. Hmm…maybe it was because all the other salespeople were already home.
A salesperson lacking a CEO attitude is hitting the door by 4 pm—even if they aren’t hitting quota. They’re not too concerned that someone on the team will need to pick up the pace to make up for the quota they committed to achieve at the beginning of the year.
- They get smarter every day. The most effective CEO’s are enrolled at CLU: Continuous Learning University. Their goal is never to join the club of, ‘I know it all.” Salespeople that think like CEO’s understand that to truly be a trusted advisor you need to always be gaining new knowledge. Otherwise, you have no new insights to share with clients and prospects.
Alvin Toffler says it best. “The illiterate of the future are not those who cannot read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and re-learn.” May I be blunt? No prospect wants to meet with a dumb salesperson.
Successful salespeople don’t wait for someone to provide education, mentoring or advice. They take charge of their learning and growth. You don’t hear them saying, “Well, I’m interested but only if my company pays for the training.” Translation: “I’m willing to get better but only if someone else foots the bill.”
- Accountable and transparent. Successful CEO’s know they are responsible for putting food on the table for their employees. They take this responsibility seriously and are comfortable being accountable to their organization for actions and decisions.
The non-CEO salesperson doesn’t share this type of accountability. They push back on sales metrics, submit incomplete data in the CRM system and barely show up at sales meetings. Imagine if other departments in the company were allowed to operate this way.
- The accounting department wouldn’t produce month end reports because they are busy. (Don’t worry….we will get you your check sometime this month.)
- The customer service team doesn’t log in customer conversations because of the high volume of incoming calls. (What do you want me to do? Take care of the customer or do data entry?)
Lack of accountability leads to lower standards and mistrust. The salesperson that thinks like a CEO knows there are parts of every job that aren’t enjoyable. She also knows that what gets measured improves and keeping client information current is part of her sales responsibility.
Think like a CEO. If you want to sell effectively to leaders, its best to act like one!