article | January 29, 2013
SVP of Sales: How to “Educate” Your CEO
Here’s what he said: “I know what I want to do. What I need from you is to teach me how to educate my CEO.”
Less than 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs “grew up” in sales. Sometimes it’s understandably difficult for them to take a “sales” perspective. And some Sales SVPs are uncomfortable with the “data-driven” approach many CEOs prefer. This is about something much more important than hiring a sales & marketing consultancy. Finding common ground is central to your ability to achieve the company’s objectives. It’s also critical if you are a big fan of your job security. How can you do it?
Use your CEO’s questions to understand and educate him.
Download the “Key CEO Questions” Guide here!
CEOs have questions. The stronger the CEO, the more inquisitive he probably is. If you don’t understand what these questions are, you are hurting yourself. You are missing an essential element of how they think. The CEO’s thought process is like a Buyer’s Journey. Their questions are how they move through the “buying” process. The “sale” is the adoption of your ideas or POV. Does your CEO “buy” from you? He might, if you understand what questions he asks himself while considering your proposal. We talk with CEOs every day. We can help.
There are three components to understanding and educating your CEO. If you’re the top sales leader, you probably interact with your CEO regularly. Nonetheless, let’s spend just a moment looking at each component individually. Here are the highlights:
Understand what CEOs care about
Understand how CEOs think
Understand what metrics to use (proof points)
Metrics are the numbers and data. The metrics they want to see will be specific to your project or idea. “Proof Points” are “proof” that your idea will work. Your Proof Points will also be specific to your project. As an example, here are some Proof Points clients use when hiring SBI:
You must be able to provide metrics and proof points to support your case. This is even more important for the top sales leader. You may have to overcome the bias that says salespeople are articulate, but lack data. If you need help with what data to present, let us know. Almost every week, we receive requests for best practice benchmarking data for Board level presentations.
Now the caveat: everyone is different. The guidance provided in this article represents the broad middle of the bell curve. However, you can bet money on one thing. Using this “questioning” method to think about how your CEO operates will work. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of his point of view. You’ll get more projects approved. And you might even become more tightly aligned with him. All of these are worthwhile outcomes, justifying the effort you make to understand.
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© 2018 Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), B.V.
A Business Strategy Consulting Company
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Amsterdam, The Netherlands