Salespeople never fail. They just stop trying. Salespeople know how to prospect — although they hate to. Salespeople can certainly present — and they love to. They know they should ask questions — although most don’t and the ones that do ask self-serving ones. Salespeople can close — even though they usually let the customers do it for them. But there is one thing salespeople do not do — selling at the C-Level Selling or to the profit center leaders.
Most salespeople don’t on a steady basis get in front of the C-Level or top decision-makers, and those that do are very weak at engaging these leaders in meaningful discussions about the purpose of their purchases — although they’d argue they do.
Many salespeople will say, if asked, “(1) It’s not necessary because the C-levels and top people don’t get involved with their type of sale: or (2) They do get to the top, but it doesn’t make a difference: or (3) These C-levels and top people are just a rubber stamps.”
Believe what you will, the leaders decide what will be purchased and from whom. When (1) major sales are made; (2) a vendor is preferred or gets a major chunk of the business; or (3) a contractor wins a tough competitive deal — the one that had an “in”, or got to the leader, or had connections, was the one that usually won.
Here are 4 typical excuses used when deals are lost — price; someone knew someone; we didn’t have all the right stuff; they didn’t tell us that was the deciding criteria. If the salespeople had engaged the top people, they would have been able to handle all these excuses.
- Price — could have been discussed in many ways. Senior-level people choose price only if everything else appears the same.
- Someone knew someone — yeah — that’s how it works. But in all fairness, that salesperson had to dig out with that someone what he or she wanted, and then show that s/he could deliver it better than alternatives.
- Didn’t have all the right stuff — I’ll bet you did, but you didn’t know how to present it because either you didn’t dig deep enough with the leader or the subordinate didn’t want you to win.
- Didn’t know the deciding factors — top people will tell you what it will take to win their vote – if asked. As for subordinates, most of the times they don’t know, because they focus on what they want, and what they think the boss wants.
I could go on, but you know that without getting to the top and picking the brains of these ultimate decision makers, you’re at a disadvantage to the ones that do.
So what’s a manager to do?
Train the salespeople. However, training on the hows and whats is not the issue. Getting the salespeople to do the hows and whats is. Training on the implementation and accountability is what both salespeople and sales managers need.
Advantages of C-Level Selling Sales Training.
- Make Sales, More Sales and Cross Sells
- Make Sales into Other Parts of the Company
- Eliminate Bidding
- Avoid Pricing Issues
- Overcome the No Budget Issue
- Competitive Advantage
- More Profitable Sales
- Learn Quickly if There Really Is a Deal
- Faster Sales Cycles
- Get Critical Information
- Get Referrals and Introductions to Other Executives
Disadvantages of C-Level Selling Sales Training.
Training costs money. It requires hiring an expert coach, because you can’t do it by yourself. If you could you would’ve done it already. Fortunately costs can be minimized with the various training options available today.
Training takes time and takes sales people out of the field. However, if you take time to sharpen the saw, you can cut more wood. But please, don’t wait for the annual sales meeting. Training is important enough to have its own agenda. It’s like saying, “We’re going after a contract, let’s wait for the sales meeting to discuss it.” Recognize training is required, but also realize, it can be regionalized, individualized, organized, and done virtually. Training should be ongoing rather than an event.
Sales managers have egos and fears. Many sales managers feel that they can teach their salespeople. Again, if they could, they would have already. Also, many managers are afraid that if they ask for training, their bosses will think poorly of them. Sales managers need to learn a process and manage to that process. Otherwise, all the manager does is push, push, push. That is, do more of the same and expect better results. That’s classic insanity.
Is it worth it? Perception of worth ties to the results. What are more sales worth? Can you really get them with current skill levels? If cost is stuck in your throat, tie the training costs to results. However, most will tell you it’s not the material, it’s the implementation of what was learned. This is why coaching, managing, and accountability training is critical. Did you learn to swim by jumping in the pool one or two times, or where you coached.
C-Level Selling is critical to attain successful salespeople. Most sales people do not have these skills and therefore deliver mediocre results. This is the missing major element for salesperson.
For a company to beat competition and dominate their marketplace, they will have to train their sales people and sales managers to perform C-Level selling skills. The sooner salespeople start getting to the top, engaging leaders in meaningful conversations, and developing professional relationships, the sooner a company’s sales will increase at an accelerated rate. The longer you wait, the more time your competition has to C-Level selling.