Bend the Sales Process when you sell to Executives

Posted by Chris Mott on Fri, Jan 07, 2011 @ 11:01 AM


When you are selling to an executive, usually a SVP or “C” level person you need to bend and sometime break their buying process.

What’s the process? Almost always it’s some form of “I need my managers to “buy-in””. The default approach to accomplish this is to include their staff in all the discussions.

Without P&L responsibility most VP’s and managers have a hard time being objective about their departments, asking the hard questions of themselves and willingly accepting outside help. The decision to address the problem is an Executive decision. It’s unfair to ask a tough question of an executive like “what’s your responsibility for X problem,” when their counterparts or subordinates are in the room, particularly when you’re an outsider.

When the executive says I want to have “insert name,” join us you need to ask why and then push back. Here are some ideas on this:

Can I push back on what you said?

  • I need to ask you some questions about “insert name’s” effectiveness. Is it appropriate to do this with “insert name” present?
  • I need to ask you questions about your role which you may not want to answer with “insert name” present. Are you sure you want to include him/her?  

The challenge is not getting them to understand and agree; the challenge is your “fear” about planting your feet and pushing back. It’s always true that when you push back you gain credibility as long as you do it professionally and tactfully.

Where do your sales skills need improvement?



Topics: asking questions, comfort zone, Executive Team, maximum effort

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