Sell Like a CEO
In order to be successful, sales people need to develop a “CEO” mentality. They need to view their territory as a separate company that they run with profit and loss responsibility. Sales people should have an acid test for assessing their activities; if I had to fund every penny of my salary, benefits, expenses and other costs of acquiring this piece of business and in return get reimbursements and 30-40 percent commission, would I do it? That’s the bet companies are making in their sales people everyday which unfortunately is usually a poor bet. The best sales people think like CEOs. They may even lack a good sales strategy, but succeed because they look at the sales cycle as a business investment.
A sales person with “CEO” mentality understands that they have to manage and control assets in order to be efficient in their day to day selling activities. The five assets are: time, information, resources, relationships and self-concept.
This is your single most important asset. Unfortunately, it is a depreciating asset that is non-recoverable. Since time is money, one should be very discriminating as to whom, when and under what circumstances they should allocate it. Not only do we have to manage spending time on the right people but we also have to work to shorten the length of time it takes to sell to people. Time kills all deals, and shortening the selling cycle is critical to managing time. Most sales people operate under the exact opposite assumption. They believe if they hang in there, out distance the competition, show the customer they care and be assertive they will ultimately prevail. In reality, this is simply not true. Professional sales people are good at qualifying their opportunities and quit early when they are operating under non-optimum conditions. They know there are only two winners in a competitive selling situation, the sales person who was awarded the deal and the sales person who lost early and saved time.
Sales people often misuse this valuable asset by giving out information and solutions to clients before they qualify. Sales people are frequently rendered to the status of free consultants because they freely and willingly give out information believing it will make the sale. If they had CEO mentality, they would guard and protect their information knowing that it is one of their most important assets. Sales people must realize that the most important information is the information the customer has. But since sales people are so “product centric” they tend lead with their information which invariably invites comparison, confusion and objections.
With CEO mentality you must guard and protect your company’s resources and only allocate them when appropriate. Many sales people operate as if their company had infinite resources. They promiscuously quote and bid on deals with little chance of winning and little consideration of the cost and drain of their company’s resources.
People buy from people they like, but more importantly from people they trust and who believe understand their problems and their unique situation. No longer can you rely on building relationships on personality and shared interests. Today, the only solid business relationship is one built on trust. Clients build trust in direct proportion to your understanding of their problems, your business knowledge and your ability to help them understand their problems in a way that no other sales person has. With a CEO mentality you will be much more discriminating as to whom you will spend valuable time building a relationship with.
Sales people consistently perform at a level equal to their belief in their own self worth. They will not put their self concept at risk by chasing deals that aren’t budgeted, are poorly qualified, aren’t in a position to change, or have the authority to make decisions. Instead of spending a lot of time giving out information and doing quotes they spend a lot of time disqualifying opportunities that don’t fit their ideal profile. They know that having a CEO mentality involves taking risks and pushing the envelope and nothing maintains self concept more effective than risk, change and learning. n
CEO mentality is not only a frame of mind, but it also is a business sales strategy. Sales people, like CEOs, must have a strong asset management program. The more successful they are at managing their assets, the more successful they will be in selling. n
Richard P. Farrell is a Vice President of Selling Dynamics, L.L.C., a national sales training and development company based in Chicago, IL. He can be reached at 847-439-8808×25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.