Inevitably at some point during a sales call, the customer will ask, “Who else have you done this for?” What they’re really asking is why they should believe or trust you. This is why it’s essential that early in the sales process, you establish credibility.
How do you prepare for a meeting with a CXO or other important executive? A friend of mine who is a senior investment banker at a major Wall Street firm once told me, “I prepare for each meeting like it’s the Super Bowl.” My friend then explained the massive amount of time he and his research team put into preparing for each important meeting. No wonder he routinely meets with CEOs, CFOs, Boards of Directors, and major investors. On the other hand, most salespeople meet with key executives infrequently. They may even treat such a meeting as another demo or discovery call. That’s a mistake.
Every sales leader wants their team to “sell higher,” and it’s easy to understand why. Senior-level executives can make bigger decisions faster than the typical buyers salespeople engage with: low-level technical users, program managers, and mid-level executives. As Marc Benioff, founder of Salesforce.com, once noted, “When I look at [our] largest transactions … every transaction was done with the CEO.” Benioff’s experience is typical of many sales organizations.
Here’s a post one of my colleagues recently made on LinkedIn after a long day of prospecting: “Today, I made 114 calls. The first 100 calls resulted in zero meetings. On call 102, I booked a meeting with a VP at a hypergrowth startup. Call 105 resulted in a meeting with one of the largest retailers in Canada. Don't quit too soon.” Boom! This post went viral, generating thousands of likes, shares, and comments as other sales professionals shared their own war stories and words of encouragement. Clearly, my colleague hit a nerve with his fellow sales professionals. It’s easy to see why. In a profession where the rejection rate can often be 90 percent, staying motivated is critical to your long-term success. So, what kind of person would sign up for a job where they are rejected over 90 percent of the time?
One of the biggest challenges for a sales organization is moving upmarket. For example, if you target the small- and medium-sized business market (SMB) and now want to target enterprise customers – that’s where the money is – you need to rethink how you sell. Enterprise and SMB selling are fundamentally different, and each requires its own sales process, metrics, and unique selling skills. At the heart of these differences is size.