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The ALARMING Decline of Executive-Level Selling Skills

I consider myself a BUY-side CXO “clinician”. What exactly is a “clinician” you ask? In the healthcare industry a “clinician” is generally defined as a credentialed expert having direct contact with and responsibility for patients, rather than one involved with theoretical or laboratory studies.

I consider myself a “clinician” in the B2B sales industry since I have 40 years of direct contact experience with sales/account executives (the “patients”), albeit from the BUY-side of the customer conversation. For the first 25 years I negotiated transactions with thousands of sales/account executives as a BUY-side CXO at 4 Fortune500 companies (including as a Chief Financial Officer). And for the last 15 years I led and facilitated hundreds of onsite training workshops where I had direct contact with my B2B “patients”, deploying Socratic questioning techniques and role play simulation of actual executive selling conversations to diagnose their condition. My B2B “patient” population was large and diverse, including 12,000 sales/account executives employed by 150 sponsoring companies.

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Don't Let Your Company Executive Go Into a Customer Meeting UNPREPARED

I have been a buy-side executive most of my professional career. I never counted but a rough estimate is I’ve experienced 2,000 face-to-face encounters with sales/account executives, 5,000 phone calls and 20,000 emails, voice messages, text messages, and old-fashioned letters. As you can imagine I have seen all kind of sales strategies, methods, techniques and gimmicks ranging from value-adding to time-wasting.

Interestingly, I only remember the extremes: the 10% of the very best sales interactions and the 10% of the very worst. The 80% in the middle are undifferentiated fuzz in my mind. If I remember your name and the company you represented, there’s a 50/50 chance I either loved you or hated you - not personally mind you, but professionally.

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E=mc2 and the Physics of Executive-Level Selling

I am a big fan of Brian Greene, an American theoretical physicist, because he opens my mind and challenges me to think differently about the world of science.  I enjoy intellectually immersing myself in his writings, which are designed to popularize theoretical physics, if that aspiration is remotely possible.

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Get Going: Now Is The Time To Go STRATEGIC With Buy-Side CXOs

During my career as a buy-side executive, B2B sales professionals rarely expressed interest in my company’s strategic planning process. That surprised me. In my current life in the training industry helping sales teams become Business Advisors to their customers, I’ve confirmed my fears: most B2B sales professionals are not engaged in their customer’s strategic planning cycle.

In my view this represents the ultimate missed opportunity to influence the customer’s investment decision process. So, why are B2B sales professionals MIA?

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