How to sell successfully to senior executives
25 June 2018
Posted by: Adam Harding
Phil Jones, the managing director of Brother UK has never forgotten his roots. He built his career in selling – “I earned my spurs on the streets of London” – but now, as the boss, people are selling to him which makes him perfectly placed to say what works and more often, what does not.
In the five years that Phil has been MD, only two salespeople have made it into his office. He told a captivated audience at a seminar run by the Association of Professional Sales: “Those two were good. If you want to sell to a CEO you’ve got to think like a CEO.”
And here’s how..
“To stand out, you’ve got to be outstanding”
It will come as no surprise, that preparation is fundamental to success. Phil jokes that he gets bombarded by emails with people”we-ing all over the place”. We do this; we do that. We are great. “I get so many inbound communications like this, but it’s blanket bombing. Just pinging yourself at me isn’t working.” Instead, sellers need to “raise their game” and be highly skilled. Your approach has to be targeted and relevant. “Review everything you send out. What does it say? Convince people you’re talking their language.”
Phil showed his audience the kind of pro-forma email that he receives all too frequently. He sends these straight to his junk folder. A typical email might start with the lazy phrase: Dear Phil, I’m reaching out to you.. “Oh, please,” said the Brother boss. The email concludes with a paragraph inviting him for a coffee, but Phil said there was nothing in the email to give him any incentive to meet. “I’d live in Costa if I had a coffee with everyone who offered.”
Phil loves a three-letter acronym, and being “Fab” is one of them. If you are Fab seller you make sure you “know the pain points of the business you’re selling to” and you focus on the features, advantages and benefits of what you’re selling.
The three Ps
Who is the person you are selling to? What are their interests and passions? Identify something that you both care about – “something uncommonly in common”. Use social media to research, speak the same language – the “industry vernacular”, study the industry and the stakeholders
Craft your approach, make it relevant, have one big dazzling fact. Personalisation is brilliant. It’s the difference between the spear and the net. The spear is targeted. The net is a random, blanket approach that hopes to make a catch.
Brother UK are working on bespoke video calling cards, where Phil, as the MD introduces a colleague to the customer.
Talk with accuracy, brevity and clarity. As a former salesman, Phil Jones admits he had the gift of the gab but with maturity and promotion comes the realisation that an executive needs to speak succinctly. When you’re selling to the CEO, the same applies.
The CEO’s personal assistant
There were no second chances here. “If you’re rude to my PA, you’re on my blacklist, straightaway,” says Phil.
Phil Jones, MBE, was speaking at an APS seminar, hosted by EY on Monday, June 25, 2018 at EY,
1 More London Place, London SE1 2AF.
We will email APS members with a link to Phil’s presentation which will be published on our Client Share platform.