Delivering results provides the real basis for selling at the executive level. It enhances credibility and establishes the executive relationship. This article will show how results are very different for the various decision makers on the same project.
Everyone knows that “Those with the In, Win”. Sales people want to be connected at the top, but usually struggle. Sales managers to presidents wish their sales people could get connected and were schmoozing with the top executives.
So this five part series is intended to help you easily and naturally sell at the executive level, and for more C-Suite Selling details, I will refer to specific articles at http://www.sammanfer.com.
Part V - Performance
Selling at the executive level all boils down to delivering results. As my old football coach use to say, “I don’t want excuses, I just want results.” And that is exactly what executive decision makers want. However with executives, the results are very individually focused. It is very personal. Not only must the company benefit, but the executive must believe his/her career has been enhanced or protected by doing business with you.
As mentioned in Part IV, credibility is tied to delivering results. When you first meet a senior executive you are delivering small, yet meaningful results, such as in the way you get the executive talking, and the way you respond to his questions, issues, and requests. As he feels more confident about you delivering his wants (results) better than alternatives, your position with him rises to the point where he says, “Give this person the order,” or “You have my support.”
As you start to deliver the various results demanded by all the executives and lower level buyers, your credibility and corporate identity will get stronger. Results are similar to bank deposits. The more you deposit, the more you can withdraw at a later date - i.e. preferred vendor status, inside information, competitive advantage, better pricing, etc.
This being said, you now have to perform. However, your performance at this level will be judged on what it does for the individual executive. This means you will have a variety of expected results to deliver - a set for each buyer.
Now the standard of measure for each person may be very different than what you think a good job entails. That’s why the interviewing process is so critical. A key question you’ll have to ask is, “How will you measure the success of this product, service or project?” Listen carefully and probe to be sure you understand what he means by words such as, on-time (what’s on-time mean); or it works (what defines it works); or improves productivity (how much is improves and how do you measure productivity?) It is very important that you let the executive spell out what he means by these performance words. Your definition may be very different than his or her expectations.
Learn what the executive values and structure your proposition in a way that shows s/he can get it better, faster, with less risk of failure, etc. from you. Then deliver it. No matter how good a job you think you did under the most difficult conditions, your results will be judged on his or her measuring stick. So be sure you know what it is.
Your final step is to insure your success (get associated with the solution) or correct any shortfalls. Since you’ve established some credibility with your interviewing and getting the order, you should be able to set-up a final meeting to discuss the project. Actually you should get agreement to have interim progress meetings with the executives to be sure you’re on the right path to their expectations. Corrections and course changes are easier before the job is completed. It’s also a good bonding process. People get closer as they work together.
So at this final meeting with the executive ask, “How did we do?” If he says, “Good,” or “Great” or something positive, you are positioned to make a large deposit in your credibility bank account. But to secure your deposit, you have to say something about what you did to make it all come out right. This is very important because if you don’t say it, s/he will assume it was no big deal. Anyone could have done it. Or worst yet, the subordinate get’s all the praise. You’ve got to take the credit. This is called, “Being associated with the solution.”
Now if s/he has some negatives to say or just an “OK”, then you have to probe to find out what’s not right. And the best way to handle these issues is to ask, “What would you like me to do about it?” Don’t just jump to your solution. Let him or her tell you what s/he would like. This way you’ll get it right as it relates to the executive. If it’s outrageous, it’s your call whether you do it or not.
Summarizing, performance provides the real basis for selling at the executive level. It enhances credibility and establishes the executive relationship. With this senior level relationship you’ll be able to reap the benefits of having high powered connections.