Although Nicholas A.C. Read and Stephen J. Bistritz claim that the approaches they recommend are "simple," that is certainly not the word I would use to describe the execution of any of them, nor would Read and Bistritz. As I began to read their book, I was reminded of the fact that, years ago, Ram Charan wrote a book (What the CEO Wants You to Know: How Your Company Really Works) in which he explains what a CEO wants everyone to know about the company she or he heads. Charan agrees with Read and Bistritz that CEOs and other C-level executives tend to have a mindset, values, perspectives, and expectations that help to explain why they occupy positions of significant authority as well as responsibility.
Hence the importance of understanding what Read and Bistritz focus on: "identifying the relevant executive, enlisting the support of gatekeepers, getting past the roadblocks, creating interest when landing the first meeting, and continuing to add value" so that credibility as a business resource - what Read and Bistritz characterize as a "Trusted Advisor" - makes it possible to continue to add value. To gain and then sustain the trust of a C-level executive, it is necessary to speak on the executive's terms, discuss the same metrics, and add value to the thought process. In other words, think and behave as a valuable (perhaps even indispensable) consultant rather than as a peddler.
Readers will appreciate the inclusion of brief summary that reiterates 2-3 key "messages" at the conclusion of a chapter. Read and Bistritz are also to be commended on modular analyses of key initiatives and/or considerations. Here are the ones that caught my eye:
o Four Stages of Sales Proficiency (Pages 14-22) o How to monitor a customer's changing world (49-52) o How to prepare for initial contact with a C-level executive (94-95) o The four components of a successful initial meeting (125-126) o The three times when to sell one's value (129-138) o The steps in cultivating client loyalty (146-152)
It would be a mistake to skip ahead to this next one. Its full meaning and value can be derived only after the previous 158 pages have been read (and preferably then re-read) with care.
o The critical steps in creating, maintaining, and leveraging with client executives (159-162)
In the Afterword, Read and Bistritz remind their reader that "your value has three components: the value you bring to the client's company, the value your company's resources bring to the client, and the value your solution brings to the client's company." That is correct but I presume to add a fourth dimension: What you and your company add to the value your client brings to its own customers. Achieve success in that fourth dimension and you will be - and be perceived to be - a Trusted Advisor.
Read & Bistritz make a very nice case on how to scan for C-level business, target the right executive, aim for the business and get into the action to initiate, meet, make a lasting impression and get the sale done.
Trying to understand the executive brain the following 5 questions were asked by the authors from C-suite leaders over a 10 year period: - When do executives get involved in the buying process for major decisions? - How do salespeople gain access to executives? - How can salespeople establish credibility with executives? - How can salespeople create value at the executive level? - Is executive buying behavior consistent across cultures?
The answers to these questions are systemically covered by the authors (see content list) such it makes an easy and fast read with tons of information such you can apply it straight away. This is a highly practical book, clearly written and with a nice summary after each chapter.
It covers many angles such as: - How do executives screen and test sales people? (hardcover page 90-92) - How to make an impression on an executive? (page 112-120): Demonstrated accountability, understood my business goals, listened before prescribing a solution, knowledge of industry/company, ability to solve problems, communicated value. - Structuring meetings with the executive (page 124-129) - Value proposition (page 129-138) ....and much more.
It also includes some nice surprise topics like "Understanding the mindset of Chinese executives" (hardcover page 86-89).
The authors do lean though towards other works like "The Trusted Advisor" (David Maister, Charles Green and Robert Galford) or "The Loyalty Effect" (Frederick F. Reichheld) and that shows or gets mentioned.
Perhaps the best summary is covered in the foreword by Neil Rackham: "In their place, the new salespeople are highly skilled value creators, who live by ingeniously solving customer problems. The measure of these new salespeople is the value they create and, to create maximum value, they must understand the issues and concerns of their C-suite customers" (Neil Rackham, Author of SPIN Selling, Foreword on `Selling to the C-Suite').
Chapter 1 - When do executives get involved in the decision process? - Get in early - Focus on their breakthrough initiative - Meet with executives to measure the results of the implementation
Chapter 2 - A brave new world for sales and marketing. - Executives with an active need have already accessed the internet - Executives with a latent need aren't looking for you....yet - Too many websites steal the thunder from salespeople
Chapter 3 - Understanding what executives want. - Understand what motivates the executive. - Get into the game. - Right message, right audience
Chapter 4 - How to gain access to the executive level. - Identify the relevant executive. - Get close to the influencers - Navigate the roadblocks
Chapter 5 - How to establish credibility at the executive level. - Know their expectations - Exceed their expectations - Operate in the Client Value Zone
Chapter 6 - How to create value at the executive level. - Plan your meetings - Explore cause and effect - Sell your value 3 times
Chapter 7 - Cultivating loyalty at the C-suite - Value drives loyalty - Climb the loyalty staircase - Quantify the value
Afterword Appendix 1 - Guide to customer research Appendix 2 - Tools for building the executive relationship Recommended associations Recommended reading
I have been selling to C-Level Exec's a long time and yet found this book came up with ideas that I codul put in to action the next day. This is just as valid for new starters as it is for people with years of sales experince
Having sold in different industries,different cultures and at different levels this book reminded me of understanding how it is to be in the buyers's shoes and what makes selling to CxO so unique. This book sits between "High Level" and "Tactical" when it comes to recommendations, ie the recommendations and techniques are easy to translate into your own relevant market. I have enjoyed reading it and have taken notes to remind me of key points. This is NOT a "Just do this" book, i like it for the reflection time it spurred and for some new ideas it created.
Selling To The C-Suite is the definitive work on today's most important business selling challenge.
Clearly the authors have vast experience of successful selling at the highest levels in business. To ensure that you are talking to the Right person, about the Right things, at the Right time, Steve and Nic give clear guidance on how to sell at the CEO level. When access is achieved, how you should communicate so the executive listens and agrees with the next action is brilliantly presented by the authors.
For anyone involved selling in a knowledge intensive world - in complex B2B Sales - selling in the "Age of the Customer", this is a must read book. Nicholas has taken a whole lifetime of professional dedication - along with a Sherlock Holmes approach to finding out what really works in B2B Sales and what doesn't, and crystallized it into an incredibly good, essential read, organized most logically, and with no fluff at all. Thank you Nicholas Read!
This books works well in that it brings together a few different approaches to selling - SPIN, Target Account Selling etc - and then adds the Executives (customer) perspective to these. As it builds on what many of us already know about basic sales/marketing, this book allows you to begin to implement the learnings confidently and immediately.
If you are in sales, getAbstract thinks you'll like this book by Nicholas A.C. Read and Stephen J. Bistritz, who offer solid advice on how to sell to senior-level executives. They start by helping you identify and gain access to the "C-Suite" denizen - that is, the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer or other chiefs - you want to approach. The authors base their suggestions on hard data: the results of surveys conducted by Target Marketing Systems, Hewlett-Packard, the business school at the University of North Carolina and other institutions. Hundreds of senior-level executives answered survey questions about how they work with the "buying cycle" and with sales professionals. The authors derive useful lessons from this research to help salespeople transform themselves from "Commodity Suppliers" to "Trusted Advisers." They explain the best tactics for getting to know executives, establishing credibility and making sales as an insider who has earned the boss's confidence. The question is whether you can get upstairs the way they advise - by cultivating mid-level managers who can make that crucial suggestion to the top boss: "I know a salesperson you should meet."
The approach suggested in this book for preparation of meeting Senior Leadership is very methodical. You will be disappointed if you expect this book to suggest any short cut method. While a seasoned sales professional is likely to know suggested preparation before meeting with CXOs, it still makes a good read due to structured presentation.