Debra Benton, author of Think Like A CEO, speaks to audiences all over the world about this topic. She is often directing the conversation to other leaders in the organization, not necessarily the sales department. We think it’s time that salespeople quit thinking like salespeople and take Debra’s advice: start thinking like a CEO. These are such salespeople and here are their thoughts, behaviors and actions.
• FILO – They are first in or last out. What time are you getting to the office or starting your day? If you are standing in line to order a latte at 8:00 am, you can bet your CEO thinking competitor has completed 20 calls by the time you’ve had your first sip! Great salespeople know the best time to reach the “C” suite is often early in the morning or after 5:00 pm because the gatekeeper isn’t in and/or everyone else has gone home. There’s a reason they say it’s lonely at the top!
CEO’s know that hope is not a strategy. They have too many families counting on them for a paycheck. Top salespeople have the same attitude. When they aren’t hitting their revenue numbers, they do what it takes to get the job done. It’s always surprising to watch salespeople, not hitting quota, hit the door at 4:30 pm. There is a good chance that this salesperson’s sales strategy is based on denial or hope. (There is also a good chance this rep won’t be around next year!)
One of my early sales managers always stressed the power of making one more call, one more stop, one more contact. She nicely said, “I don’t care if you don’t feel like it. I am not paying you for your feelings.” It was always amazing to many how that one more attempt paid off in setting an appointment. (Maybe it was because all the other salespeople were at home.)
• They get smarter every day. Most effective CEO’s are enrolled at TUGS, The University of Getting Smarter. Their biggest goal is avoiding that place called, “I know it all.” They understand we live in the knowledge age and companies that compete and win are organizations that have a learning culture. Alvin Toffler says it best. “The illiterate of the future are not those who cannot read or write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and re-learn.” Let’s face it. No prospect wants to be called on by a dumb salesperson.
Experts in the emotional intelligence world call this competency self actualization. People scoring high in this competency are on a continuous journey to reaching their full potential. Steven Stein and Howard Book, authors of The EQ Edge, report that self actualization is one of the key emotional intelligence skills found in top sales producers. Successful salespeople are like successful CEO’s. They don’t wait for someone to provide education, mentoring or advice. They take charge of their learning and growth. In the sales training business, we quickly disqualify a prospect when he says, “Well, let me see if my company will pay for the training.” What he is really saying is, “I’m only going to get better if someone else foots the bill.”
• Accountable and transparent. Successful CEO’s know that they are responsible for putting food on the table for many people. They take this responsibility seriously and are accountable to their organization for their actions and decisions.
Unfortunately, many sales organizations lack accountability and accept bad sales behavior such as incomplete data in the CRM system or poor attendance at sales meetings. They believe the myth that top producers are also a pain in the neck—it just comes with the territory. As a result, they cave into the age old excuse of, “Hey, I’m producing sales so don’t micromanage me.” Imagine if other departments in the company were allowed to operate this way.
The accounting department wouldn’t produce month end reports because they have other things to do. (Don’t worry….we will get you your check sometime this month.) The customer service team doesn’t log in customer conversations because they have so many calls coming in.
Lack of accountability leads to lower standards and mistrust. The salesperson that thinks like a CEO knows there are parts of every job that aren’t enjoyable. She also knows that her data and involvement is important in driving strategic decisions at the company.
Think like a CEO. Since you sell to leaders, it’s best to act like one!
by Colleen Stanley
About the Author:
Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership, Inc., a business development firm specializing in sales and sales management training. Colleen is the creator of Ei SellingTM, a unique and powerful sales program that integrates emotional intelligence skills with consultative sales skills