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Stop the Selling to CEO Hype

Posted by Philip Kreindler on 26-Jan-2015 09:00:00

Deal_one_pagerThere are a lot of training companies out there who will tell you if you are not selling to the C-level you are going to fail. They will happily go on to charge you lots of money to teach you how to do it. This approach (and I will try to keep this polite) is complete rubbish!

CXO people have better things to do

The Chief Executive Officer and the rest of the C-suite in a large modern company are very busy. Highly competent people surround them and key tasks like selecting vendors are usually delegated. Depending on the size or importance of the business, the CXO signs off, but they don’t want to spend lots of time sitting through meetings with vendor Sales organisations.

A 40M Euro deal shows that I’m right

One of our clients recently won a €40M deal. The company sells core banking software. Our client did not have access to the C-suite but developed a Deal One Pager for their highest contact who then used it for internal communication to his CXO’s.

The bank CXO’s signed off on the €40M and everyone was happy. Our client was very happy indeed.

What is a Deal One Pager?

As the name suggests, it’s the deal the vendor is offering the customer summed up on a single page. The purpose is to support the customer in their internal decision making process. Based on creating these for a great many successful deals we have designed an ideal format for the Deal One Pager. It looks a bit like this: 

  1. Objectives and requirements - make sure they include points important to the final decision maker and are written in their terms.

  2. Solution description – make sure that it really matches the customer’s objectives and requirements.

  3. Benefits - make sure that the benefits listed address all stakeholders involved in the decision. Include benefits for your customer's customer.

  4. Strengths - make sure they are relevant for this customer and really differentiate you from the alternatives being considered.

You will write the first draft of this but it’s vital to get your contact to review it and make sure it is written in the customers’ internal language. In the case of the sale to the bank I mentioned above, our client even presented the document in the bank’s corporate identity so it looked like an internal document.

Do customers like Deal One Pagers?

The short answer is yes. The head of global procurement at a large telecoms client told us that it can be used internally to position the recommended solution. The term he uses for the Deal One Pager is Recommendation at a Glance. He went on to insist that all vendors should provide a Deal One Pager. You are giving the customer what they want; your contact has a tool that they can use to sell internally and the CXOs get a summary that is brief and to the point, allowing them to make an informed decision about sign off.

And think about the alternative – if you insist on seeing the C-Suite. You are effectively saying to your contact that you don’t think they are important. And what do you do when the CEO says no?

Do Sales Professionals like Deal One Pagers?

Oh yes! It’s the closest you are likely to get to being in the room when the final decision is made. And if other vendors have not provided a Deal One Pager you set the agenda. It is also useful to get everybody in a selling team aligned. As a salesperson at one of our clients put it: "It also helps to keep our CEO under control".

You can also use a Deal One Pager earlier in the Sales Process. We recently met the European Sales Manager of a leading European Robotics manufacturer who was interested in working with us, but his CEO had bad experiences in the past with external consultants. We developed a Business Case and a Deal One Pager with the Sales Manager and he took these to the CEO who studied them and gave our contact the green light to start an evaluation.

Of course you have to cover the Buying Centre well and CXO people play a crucial role, but in an increasing number of organisations the days of Sales people being able to sit down with CXOs are over. Instead you have to communicate with them in other ways and the Deal One Pager is ideal for that.

Ask yourself these questions

  1. Do you find getting access to CXOs easy?

  2. How well do you prepare and support your contact for internal selling?

  3. Do you include something like a Deal One Pager in all proposals and proposal presentations?

We would be happy to validate one of your Deal One Pagers. Just give us a call.

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