Purpose, Focus, Confidence, Credibility and Performance are the path to the executive suite. Once there, sales come easily and continuously. Then you’ll move from vendor to preferred supplier and have a successful large account.

The sad truth is that most sales people believe they are high ...Purpose, Focus, Confidence, Credibility and Performance are the path to the executive suite. Once there, sales come easily and continuously. Then you’ll move from vendor to preferred supplier and have a successful large account.

The sad truth is that most sales people believe they are high enough – especially for technical sales. What is even more disconcerting is that 90% of the sales people for any company don’t know how to get to, talk with, and perform to the standards of senior executives. If this seems unbelievable, ask any Sales VP or CEO how many senior level relationships they have that can be leveraged for price advantage and/or against competition. You’ll find it is very few.

Purpose of Relationship Selling

Top dollar sales people know there is a real purpose for being positioned at the top. Budgets are allocated there. Funds are released there -- with or without a budget. Any changes to operations, systems or procedures are usually initiated there and are always approved there. Committees bring their recommendations for vendor selections there for approval.

Always ask yourself or your sales person, “What would happen to your chances of being the preferred vendor if your competitor gets there and makes a positive impact?” This should eliminate any doubt about purpose.

Focus and You'll Find a Way In

Getting to the top requires focus. If you set your sights there, you’ll figure a way to get there. Caution: Do not ignore the people below on your way to the top. They have to be covered, but realize the job is not finished with subordinates.

Set your scope upward towards senior managers. Target those with P/L responsibility for the division, region, company, etc. where your products/services are used. If you don’t, the ruling party will consider you a commodity that can be substituted or replaced, instead of a valuable resource to protect and use.

Confidence that You Belong in an Executive Relationship

Confidence is the belief that you belong with these leaders. Unfortunately, the lack of this self-assurance becomes our worst weakness. The reason for this is that we have been programmed from childhood to fear authority figures. So we gravitate to lower, more comfortable levels and convince ourselves that the decision is made there.

We were also conditioned that selling is a negative profession. Who ever studied to be a sales person? Remember your parents’ words, “Don’t bother people. Don’t ask for favors. You’ll be annoying. You’ll be indebted.” Consequently, we feel afraid of what will happen, and ashamed (too proud or guilty) to ask for introductions, information or even the order.

To destroy self-worth further, there are past rejection experiences from meetings with executives that went nowhere and rejection from subordinates saying in so many words, “You are not important enough to go beyond me.” All of this conditioning has left many sales people without the confidence to charge ahead and make contacts and relationships.

The solution to this overwhelming intimidation factor is to prepare for the meeting and prepare yourself. Get help from your information / introduction network. Rehearse what will be said and done in the meeting. Reprogram your thinking that this working person with a title is no different than you. Overcome any self-doubt by realizing you are feeling afraid and fear is just negative projection. Pump yourself up to positively project. Think, “This person wants to see me and our meeting will be great for both of us. If not, it’s his/her loss – not mine.”

Developing Credibility to Get a Selling Relationship

Credibility is the door opener. If you’ve got it you can see this person anytime. Credibility means the person respects you, trusts you and believes you will deliver him/her results. Most sales people develop credibility at lower levels. Establishing credibility at higher corporate levels is far more difficult because access is limited and what needs to be done and said is very different. Slip here with boring, annoying or no-impact selling approaches and you’ll ruin any chance of credibility, further access and a relationship.

The key to gaining credibility is to use your Golden Network to transfer their credibility with the higher level people to you. They need to refer you, introduce you, and help you establish respect. Once you’re there, remember that to keep this busy exec’s attention you must talk about what’s important to him or her. If you don’t know, lead with questions to learn how this person thinks and acts. Keep in mind that senior level people love to talk about themselves and their problems. Once they realize you understand them, they may then listen to how you can help.

Performance is Essential or There Is No Relationship

Finally, performance provides the real basis for attaining access, developing credibility and establishing relationships with senior executives. However, your performance at this level will be judged on what it does for the individual executive. It is now 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.

Learn what the chief values are and structure your proposition in a way that shows that she/he can get it better and with less risk of failure from you. Then deliver it. Measure the results by his or her standards and be sure the executive is satisfied. If so, that’s great. Ask for more business. If not, set a course to bring the results to where they need to be.

Conclusion for Relationship Selling

Working your existing accounts for more sales is so much easier than new sales to new customers. However, it requires getting positioned. This takes skills and a sensitivity that most people have never learned. Purpose, focus, confidence, credibility and performance are the route to the top. Learn how to implement them and never stop climbing until they offer you your own office in their C-Suite.

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