Getting the ear of a CEO isn’t easy. Like so many of you, I hate to ‘sell’. I try really hard to establish rapport, to quickly understand and empathize with what that CEO is experiencing as he/she tries to run their business. I ask curiosity questions. I have them tell me what they have done in the past to solve some of their issues and how successful those attempts have been.
Once I know what stage of growth they are in, I talk about the things I know about that stage of growth and see if they are experiencing those same issues. Because I’ve run a company, I can share my own stories about what I struggled with when I was in that stage of growth. You may be able to share your own stories or share examples of what you’ve seen in other situations.
The main lesson here is I’M NOT SELLING. I’m solving. I’m showing them that I can help them solve their challenges.
I also work very hard to figure out WHO THEY ARE.
Meaning, are they focused on our conversation or are they distracted, taking calls or not making good eye contact?
When I ask how they feel about their employees, do I hear complaints, do they run people down, or do they indicate there are bigger issues their team is struggling with? In other words, am I talking to an emotionally intelligent leader? Am I talking to someone who genuinely cares about their staff and wants to make their jobs easier? Am I talking to someone who recognizes their own weaknesses and is looking to become a better leader?
Working with someone who sees only problems, not solutions and is worried about spending money, and constantly complains about their staff, may not be a good fit for you.
Recently, a GCS thought he had sold an X-Ray. He had sent a proposal, the person agreed with the amount of the engagement, the participants were identified and the date was set for the X-Ray.
Two days later he received an email from that client who indicated they had re-evaluated his program and elected not to move forward.
What happened? Were there any warning signs that the client wasn’t really engaged in the process? Was a relationship established? What did the GCS miss in the pre-discussions about this CEO’s challenges, concerns, and issues? I’m certainly not placing blame as this could happen to anyone. I just want to emphasize the importance of building rapport, establishing trust, and helping that CEO understand the value of the X-Ray process – how the X-Ray can solve their problems.
This process, creating rapport and establishing a relationship takes time. How much time is not important. It will take the time it takes based on your understanding of what that CEO is struggling with and your ability to show them how you can provide a solution. Helping a CEO see that they are not alone in those struggles – that there is a formula to manage growth and uncover obstacles to growth — that is our goal in all our engagements.
Here is a quote from one of my recent engagements and I think it shows exactly what CEOs need to understand about growing a company.
“One of the biggest issues I struggle with as the CEO of a growing company is the unknown and having to make timely decisions with only 80-90% of the data available. One of the biggest attractions to the Stages of Growth X-Ray program is it helped my leadership team move from ‘wondering’ what to do next to ‘taking action’ through a detailed initiative plan built with confidence and organizational buy-in. This program allows a CEO to stop guessing at what he/she should be focused on and helps them identify exactly what to focus on. That’s a huge advantage to any organization.”
If you haven’t listened to my video “How to Position an X-Ray to a Prospect” you’ll find it under the X-Ray Video Tab. It’s an hour in length. There is a lot of critical information in this video.
My suggestion is to listen to this prior to engaging a CEO in a conversation. I make the point that you KNOW A LOT about what that CEO is going through. You need to position yourself as an expert in helping them with alignment, engagement, and implementation. These are the three outcomes that an X-Ray or a Profit Zone delivers.
Stop worrying about selling the X-Ray or the Profit Zone programs. I suggest you just get more confident about the real value you bring to the table by using the 7 Stages of Growth to solve those challenges that keep CEOs up at night. That’s how you close the sale.
Your success. My passion.
Laurie Taylor, FlashPoint!