In the second of a series of articles Brian Conway, Programme Director at Channel Sales Mastery examines the biggest mistake sales people make when trying to sell to executives and how to avoid it!
In the previous article I talked about the importance of you BEING valuable to your prospects and clients, rather than just CREATING value from your products and services.
This is never more important than when selling to executives, yet there is huge mistake that many sales people make when looking to engage with board members of their clients’ organisations.
Engaging at the board level and selling to executives has never been more important because…
…When The Economy Goes Down, Decisions Go Up.
It is because we recognise this, or because we hope that some executive influence might sway a buying decision in our favour, that during the sales process, we often say “We need to get executive buy in.”…
… and this is where the mistake happens.
“Timing is everything” and this is not the best time to be engaging with executives. When the vision has been set and a project or business initiative has been defined by the board, they then pay people below them to actually implement it. This is not something they are interested in talking about, they will simply push you back down the hiarchy to talk to somebody in management or even worse, operations, who has been tasked with making it happen.
They will purely see you as a “Sales Person” who is trying to sell them something when buying isn’t their job.
When Are Executives Involved in The Sales Process?
Executives actually have very little involvement in the “sales” process. More often they are involved well before the buying/selling cycle starts. They are involved in actually identifying the business challenge or opportunity that the purchase of technology is hoping to address; but not necessarily interested in what that technology is or does. They are involved in defining the projects as part of the strategy for the company. They will be involved in establishing or signing off any project objectives, so it is during this activity you should be engaging with executives, not during the purchasing time frame.
The next time executives typically get involved is often long after the sale, when they are looking to measure the actual results of the implementation and the financial returns they are getting to the business from their investment.
This is a great time to engage with executives because you’ve got a story to tell. Hopefully you have a success to discuss and you can talk about their business and how it’s realising value from your implementation.
To engage with Executives during the sales process when they are a “Prospect”, to talk about the sales process or the actual products or services you are proposing is, in general, a big mistake.
As you can see in Fig.1 above, there is a big disconnect between the involvement of you as a sales person and that of a company Executive during the time when most sales people attempt to engage with Board members.
Logically this makes obvious sense, yet it’s still one of the biggest mistakes executives tell me that sales people make.
Use the “Trusted Advisor” techniques of being valuable that I discussed in the previous article to engage with executives when you have no obvious sales motive. Act in a way that brings value to their business as an industry expert, rather than just as a sales person.