Why Can’t The Salesforce Team Sell Like The CEO?
In theory, salespeople can land big deals independently, but it rarely happens. Landing big deals requires a very different way of thinking. In my 18 years of doing this, I’ve only seen CEOs, presidents, and business owners capable of this thinking. The CEO of the salesforce sees things the reps do not see.
Why a Sales Rep Can’t Think Like a CEO
There may be exceptions to the rule, but when you own or run the business as the CEO or the president, you see things from a very different perspective. You see an opportunity where others don’t see it. You will feel it personally when your company loses money on a deal. Others may feel it is just the cost of doing business. You understand what resources are available; others won’t even know those resources exist. A salesperson can learn all these nuances, in theory. However, in my experience, it rarely, if ever, works that way.
Examples of CEO-Style Thinking
Let me give you a couple of examples to explain what I mean. We had a client whose largest deal ever had been $2 million. They struggled with the training we took them through and worked hard. They participated in all the exercises, but, as a team, they were stuck in their old paradigms.
We hung in there with them, and they worked hard. We gave them a lot of coaching. They had to change their corporate beliefs and way of thinking. When it finally clicked with them, the company went from never having done a deal over $2 million to 12 deals worth $110 million accumulatively in 13 weeks. That’s almost $9 million on an average deal! The salesforce CEO drove that kind of change in thinking.
The CEO or owner is the one with the vision who’s willing to push and get people to stretch outside of their comfort zone. You never find salespeople capable of doing that on their own. The problem isn’t bad sales reps; this is just the harsh reality.
My second example is a huge national company we had as a client. They had three divisions, with a vice president over each. We started talking with each other about a huge deal that they had in their pipeline. They had never gotten a deal of this size before. They scheduled a meeting with the prospect, so we sat with them and mapped out the people who would attend. There would be about eight different people attending this meeting.
We stress peer-to-peer sales. If they schedule their CFO for a meeting, your CFO or equivalent needs to be there. If their HR director is going to show up, your HR director had better show up. When we looked at the prospective company’s principals coming to the meeting, our client did not have an equivalent for two of those to attend. These were the head of HR and the head of legal. The three division vice presidents said they couldn’t match these people peer-to-peer.
An Executive View of Resources
The great thing about this consultation was the salesforce CEO was there. He said, “Our company is a franchise. We’re part of a much larger network. Headquarters has a head of HR and a legal department.” They called the headquarters and arranged to pay for the day and travel time for the head of HR and legal. They represented the franchise in the meeting.
The division vice presidents were all brilliant, all very experienced, and all very talented, but they did not see resources. Their point-of-view was from someone who sat in the office building within their own walls. They didn’t even consider resources outside of that. However, the company’s salesforce CEO had a very different perspective and way of thinking.