This week I would like to share an article (my abridged version) written by Tony Parinello; a well known expert on executive-level selling. For CEO’s and business owners – this is well worth the 5 minutes of reading time!
At some level, of course, all business leaders must “sell.” But why do so many CEO’s and business owners either remove themselves from the sales altogether, or limit their selling involvement to “closing” or “VIP Client” meetings?
The answer is that most leaders of companies have gotten used to delegating. Even though they exercise their analytical, interpersonal and persuasive skills during interactions with employees, vendors, board members and other key players, most CEO’s find a way to rationalize away any personal involvement in their organization’s selling activities. Maybe they’ve forgotten the importance of selling; maybe they feel they’ve outgrown the world of sales; maybe their idea of selling is coming in at the end of the process and hobnobbing with a client or prospect.
Revenue-focused CEO’s know better. They know there’s much more to a sale than a ‘close’, and much more to a relationship with a customer than schmoozing. In my experience, CEO’s who get out there and sell tend to do so in very large volume indeed-by adhering to the following principles:
- Personally and consistently model the ideal sales process. Talk about a morale-builder! Everyone needs role models. Who plays the role better than the head of the company?
- Personally monitor changes in the marketplace. There’s nothing like talking to customers directly about how they’re using your product, service or solution. Leaving this to the marketing department or a team of consultants can lead to missed opportunities and a slower-than-necessary time to market for new products and services.
- Constantly build interpersonal skills to secure one-on-one loyalty from customers. Top CEO’s send personalized, handwritten thank-you notes to each and every one of their customers. (Don’t underestimate the power of a hand-written note-these can build truly extraordinary customer relationships.)
- Increase the amount of high-margin add-on business. Often, this occurs when a CEO assumes direct, personal responsibility for connecting with people at the highest level of the target organization and building long-term partnership plans.
- Call a meeting of your best (noncompetitive) customers. Not a fiscal quarter should pass when you don’t have a customer “touch point” that will keep you and your ideas in the “top of the mind” category. Customer summits are a great way to do this.
The moral of the story: When CEO’s sell, two great things tend to happen. First and foremost, more deals (and bigger deals!) close. Second, every employee gets to witness top-down involvement in Priority One: revenue-generating activity. Let’s face it: When a CEO, president or owner does something, everyone in the organization takes notice and perceives that activity as important. So if you’re a CEO who wants ground-level selling to take on added importance, hit the phones and make some cold calls in a visible way.
Happy Tuesday & Happy Selling!