We all have lids.
We all have lids that limit our growth and that close us off to success. Once we lift those lids we flourish, and so do those around us.
Most salespeople find when it comes to speaking to the ‘C Level’, they begin to run out of conviction and confidence and fail to connect effectively.
Most ‘C Level’ find that when it comes to speaking with salespeople, many waste their time because they can’t speak at their level.
The Law of The Lid, as coined and quoted by John Maxwell: ’leadership ability is the lid that determines a person’s level of effectiveness. The lower an individual’s ability to lead, the lower the lid on his potential. The higher the individual’s ability to lead, the higher the lid on his potential. To give you an example, if your leadership rates an 8, then your effectiveness can never be greater than a 7. If your leadership is only a 4, then your effectiveness will be no higher than a 3. Your leadership ability—for better or for worse—always determines your effectiveness and the potential impact of your organization’.
The ‘C’ level decision makers expect salespeople to exhibit business acumen and be able to hold a business conversation at their level – a two way dialogue about their business instead of a product focused monologue.
Most salespeople have no idea about the challenges of the actual role of the decision maker and how these buyers actually measure a salesperson, or even what their expectations of a salesperson are.
Most sales people are uncertain when it comes to making appointments and having meetings with a contact at the ‘C’ level so they tend to be more comfortable making appointments with the lower levels such as purchasing officers, IT managers and business managers, so they can feel more effective.
They are uncertain because, quite simply, they don’t know what to say. They question their own value, which comes back to their personal beliefs about being a salesperson, which impacts their business acumen, relationship building and commercial conversations.
Ironically, most ‘C’ levels were once salespeople – in fact approximately 85% of CEO’s have been subjected to rejection, have learnt the hard way, had doors closed on them and had to secure the appointment and come back with the business. Because many still remember, they love it when they see a salesperson that can do it well today and some of their expectations are as follows:
The ‘C Level’s Law of the Lid’ Expectations
They relish someone who gets directly to the point. Remember the two things on a CEO’s mind are ensuring nothing or nobody wastes his time and that the salesperson can provide new ideas to help achieve the company’s vision.
Doing your homework! And that doesn’t just mean hooking up on Linked In or scouring over Annual Reports. Google gives you so much information you can take with you and appropriately weave into a conversation- personally and professionally. A contact I called on happened to live not far from me and his son was in the same basketball competition as my son. A couple of grades higher, but it was still enough for us to build rapport and then segue to the trends in his industry.
When introducing yourself – be articulate, forget fancy titles and narcissistic tendencies as they can see right through people who puff themselves up.
If you think of talking product you are even more behind the times than you think. Top executives are not interested in features and benefits. They are interested in profits and ideas.
Don’t ask, ‘is this a good time to talk?’ There is never a good time. Instead thank them for taking your call or for meeting with you out of pure courtesy.
What is your purpose? Ensure something is in it for them i.e. ‘What is going to help me run my business better?’
They expect you to suggest the next logical step, whatever that may be – do it!
That is how they think initially – but deep down their minds are consumed with thoughts that surround four factors and variations of these.
They want to:
Increase their profits Decrease their costs Solve their problems Be provided with fresh new ideas
We read about it everywhere. Knowledge is the new source of competitive advantage for us and for our customers BUT we must make it relevant and the consumption of it simple. Our value to our CEO is the ideas we give them that they haven’t already heard or thought of before, shortcuts that make the complex simple and questions that make them think, even days later while they may be parked in traffic.
What core message do you have that will provide this and help you lift the lid on your effectiveness as a salesperson or sales leader?
To survive and go beyond mediocrity in today’s fast-moving sales world, you must understand the vision of those you want to serve and ensure you communicate ideas with shared business value.