Executive Expectations of Salespeople – Video Excerpt from the book, Selling to the C-Suite

I wanted to highlight some interesting data that was in the book, Selling to the C-Suite, so I decided to create this video snippet to give you what I consider great ‘cxo insight’.


p.s., I’m experimenting using these types of PowerPoint videos to help explain things better. What do you think of the video below? Your feedback would be appreciated!!


(Sales) Book Review: Selling to the C-Suite by Stephen Bistritz and Nicholas Read

Let me start out this book review by simply saying that if your job consists of selling to or establishing meaningful relationships with senior executives in large companies, then you NEED and MUST read this book. Not doing so is only cheating yourself and the company you represent.

Here’s a quick scan of the answers you’ll find in the book :

•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?

Bistritz and Read (Authors) have done a wonderful job in not only qualifying how to sell into the ‘c-suite’, they move beyond the anecdotal and into the empirical by sharing with us the reader how they arrived at their conclusions. The book is based on actual interviews, over 500, done with senior executives.

I had several ‘holy bucket’ moments as I read through the book. Here are just a few:

1) Knowing when and why a senior executive gets involved in the decision making process and also the reasoning behind it. We’ve all heard the cliche, “By the time most salespeople get involved in a sale, it’s too late.” This book explains why that’s so and how you can avoid the ‘late to the party’ effect.

2) Understanding what executives want from a salesperson and in what order (i.e., priority). This was quite insightful and quite surprising. Here’s a tease: it’s not product knowledge or knowledge about your competition that ranks high with executives.

3) What do salespeople have to do in the Internet Age to remain relevant to senior executives? The authors explain what has changed in the mind of the consumer and how our clients perceive salespeople in today’s info-glut environment.

4) Does cold calling or writing a letter to the CEO really work? Find out five ways to get into the c-suite and which are the top 3 most effective ways to connect with a senior level executive.

Bistritz and Read write in a very simple yet eloquent style. Neil Rackham provides a candid foreword for the book which in it of itself makes for good reading.

I’ve rarely been taken in by a book that constantly made me stop in order reflect on what was being said. Add to that the fact that the book is literally peppered with actual quotes from senior level executives that gives us the reader a heighten sense of what’s important to executives. Isn’t that what selling is?

I could go on but I’ll simply end this review by saying that this is by far the best book I’ve read on how to establish effective and fruitful C-Level relationships.

On Vacation in July in Minnesota

Taking a break this month; need to recharge the mental engine! I’ll be publishing some new Sales Influence Moment again starting in August!

If you haven’t seen my 12,000+ keynote at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, here it is:

A CXO Love Story: Part 2 – Let’s Play Nice

I selected one of the regions that had been underperforming for years as my test market for a new approach I decided to test. Call it the CXO nuclear option! I decided to focus in on the top three major players in the market and focus on getting in at the C-Level (Senior Level Executives) where I knew all the key decisions were made.

Being new to the market, my first plan of attack was to contact the company who was dominating the market offering similar and complimentary products to what we were had in our product and systems bag. I’ll call this company Pilot. I arranged a meeting with the president of the company who founded the company some 20 years earlier and was well known and respected.

When I arrived to at meeting we were joined by his son; the heir apparent to Pilot’s techno-dynasty. His son was taking over more of the sales and marketing role while his father continued to focus on the engineering and operations aspect of the business.

The meeting didn’t last long and dare I say it didn’t go as well as I expected. The father was open to finding ways of working together since he sensed (and had heard) that our company was committed to penetrating the local market and going after the big players was priority numero uno.

The son on the other hand was overtly hostile to the idea of working together. He was your archetypical know-it-all whose hostility towards my request for ‘playing nice’ became evident as we discussed how to work together on getting into the top client in the region.

“Why do we need you or want to help you when we have the client locked up?” he blurted out. His father looked over at him with a disapproving look; that seemed to put him back in his chair.

The so-called client the son was referring to was the crown jewel of the region that I’ll refer to as TechComp. Pilot was selling over 80% of all TechComp’s technology needs. The other 20% was doled out to small local companies for ‘appearances’ (i.e., TechComp didn’t want to be accused of favoring one vendor so they ‘spread the love’)

I pled my case to Pilot that although there was some product overlap, I also saw some synergies between our products and we could help each other. But my pleas were falling on deaf ears. I got the typical appeasement statements: “Let’s continue to talk and see if we can find a way to work together” or “Let me think about it and see if we can work with you on specific projects when they go to bid.” You get the idea.

The son continued to give me the quizzical stare as if to say, ‘Why do we even need to be here talking to you and why would we help you gain access to a client we’ve spent so many years cultivating.”

Their resistance was understandable,…but futile. I was determined to crack that account and win some of the business. I thanked them for their time and walked out of their office building knowing full well that the partnering option in this case was not an option at all. It was time to rethink the penetration strategy!

A CXO Love Story continues next week with Part 3: I Need a Squirrel

Back to Work August 1st :-)

I’m currently working on my NEW book (Hush, hush) and won’t be posting any videos this month. But I am compiling some great VIDEO content I’ll start posting in August!

A CXO Love Story: Part 1 – Assessing the Terrain

When I was promoted to Vice-President of Sales, I faced a daunting challenge. Many of my regions were under performing and I, nor my team, knew exactly why. In talking to my regional managers and directors, they held to their story that they were trying anything and everything to oust the incumbents and win business. Of course I got the standard complaints about how they needed more salespeople and tech support to be able to touch and service more clients in the region, respectively.

So my first duty as VP was to get on a plane and visit each of the regional offices that were underperforming to get a firsthand look at what was going on. The salespeople took me around to see their existing clients; only the happy ones of course. After weeks of flying, and an estimated 200 packets of peanuts consumed, I began to get a sense of what was wrong or better yet, what was causing these regions to underperform.

The obvious red flag was the fact that our salespeople weren’t penetrating the big accounts. We didn’t have a stake in terms of sales with any of the major technology players in the region. We were picking up small deals here and there, but I surmised very quickly that we were missing out on the big proposals.

We had to switch strategies and aim higher if we were going to hit our quota for the year. What was the quota? The region had never surpassed $14 million. My goal as the new VP was to make sure we hit the $14M and build from there. Expectations were running high! Ha! Aren’t they always when you’re on the sales-end of the stick!

A CXO Love Story continues next week with Part 2: Let’s Play Nice

(Influence) Book Review: Quirkology by Richard Wiseman, Ph.D

Where do I begin?! Quirkology is a ‘quirky’ book about the ‘quirky’ things we humans do and the people who study them. Or as Wiseman puts it, “…quirkology uses scientific methods to study the more curious aspects of everyday life.”

I chose to review this book because it attempts to uncover the ‘why’ behind ‘how people decide’ to do the things they do.

This book is filled with studies on some of the most mundane aspects of human existence. Nonetheless, the author manages to use these studies to show us a new world that’s happening right under our conscious perception.

Watch this AMAZING video to get an idea of what I’m talking about!

Here are a few nuggets from the book, Quirkology:

-Why does a person with the same birthday have more influence over you than one whose birthday isn’t on the same day?

-How is it that a young child can do better in the stock market than a financial “astrologer” (yes, you read that right) and an investment expert?

-How does flattery influence your decision making process?

-Why does the ‘death rate’ rise just BEFORE a tax rate hike takes effect? Conversely, why does the death rate go down when taxes are decreased?

-When it comes to detecting deception, the I’s not eyes are a better at spotting a lie!

-I now know where ‘6 degrees of separation’ comes from. The interesting thing is that it is now only ‘4 degrees of separation’.

-Find out why people who walk over hot coals, can’t walk over hot wood.

-Do Subliminal messages really work? Why not?

-If you’re a waiter or waitress, find out how to increase the amount a patron tips you.

Writing a book review for Quirkology presents a challenge because the book is literally all over the place but it still manages to hover around its core proposition; wierd things people do and why!

Wiseman’s book reminds me of, dare I say, a box of chocolates. Sorry Mr. Gump! Each chapter contains experiments and studies that leave you guessing as to why people do the things they do. You simply don’t know what you’re going to get when it comes to predicting how people will behave.

If you’re in the mood for a book that is unpredictable, entertaining and quirky,…look no further than Quirkology. I highly recommend it!

Victor Antonio, Sales Influence