The Key to the C-Suite: What You Need to Know to Sell Successfully to Top Executives

The Key to the C-Suite: What You Need to Know to Sell Successfully to Top Executives

by Michael J. NICK, Jill KONRATH


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As economic realities press ever more forcefully on business, executives will be keenly aware of the specific financial ramifications of every large buying decision. In fact, they’re unlikely to pull the trigger without the direct and detailed involvement of their own finance teams.

In short, the buy will be tied not just to a general sense of strategy but also to individual, targeted components of a budget or forecast. To sales professionals like you, this means understanding how top executives evaluate and prioritize potential purchases, recognizing the challenges they face, and presenting your product or service as a value proposition.

Packed with real financial knowledge, but geared toward the layman, The Key to the C-Suite identifies and defines ten key financial metrics that C-Suite executives use throughout their buying-decision process and shows you how to build your value proposition and business case to complement theirs. The book also guides you in:

• Defining your value and building a value inventory

• Calculating and communicating your potential value impact on a prospect’s C-Suite metrics

• Discovering and analyzing prospects’ financial information so you can tailor your approach to their financial realities

• Forming and asking the questions that will repeatedly lead your prospect back to your value proposition

• Preparing and delivering the formal presentation to C-level executives

The Key to the C-Suite also provides an array of powerful tools to help you not only redesign your general business approach but also tailor it on a prospect-by-prospect, client-by-client basis. In addition to resource information on where to find financial metrics for corporations in 19 major industries, you will have:

• Clear definitions and examples of the financial metrics used in strategic decision making

• A Value Inventory Matrix tool linking your proposition directly to specific client needs

• Step-by-step instructions for creating the value-focused questions you need to ask

• Presentation tools and strategies, with many real-world examples from the author’s own experience and customer base

• Parallels and links with other major sales methodologies to take advantage of familiarity

• And much more

Each chapter concludes with a detailed summary that neatly encapsulates major concepts and lays the groundwork for your next steps.

Perhaps most important, The Key to the C-Suite helps you understand the financial language and realities that inform and drive every major buy­ing decision. And if that language is the key to the buy, shouldn’t it also be the secret of your sales success?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814438947
Publisher: AMACOM
Publication date: 06/18/2011
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 911,248
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Michael Nick is the author of ROI Selling, as well as president and founder of ROI4Sales, Inc. He has taught selling techniques, developed sales tools, and implemented sales processes at companies throughout the world, including Hewlett Packard, Microsoft Great Plains, NEC, Emerson, Oracle, S1 Corporation, Rockford Automation, Autodesk, 3E Company, Imation, and TSYS.

Read an Excerpt


Several years ago, Kurt M. Koenig and I published a book called ROI

Selling (Kaplan Publishing, 2004), in which we covered in detail how to

create sales tools focused around return on investment (ROI). Back then,

ROI was a key tool that was required in most complex sales environments.

We had just come out of the dot-com era, and there was a lot of skepticism

about the value that companies could offer. Most organizations were

forced to create some sort of sales tool that performed complex math projecting

positive ROI. This trend lasted for several years until the economy

took another turn for the worse in 2008.

ROI models are still used today in many sales opportunities, with limited

success. However, in the past few years, we have seen economic

changes like never before. Budgets have become even more stringent, decisions

to buy any asset have been put off indefinitely, and important purchasing

decisions have been moved up the ladder into the C-Suite. My

research indicates that most major buying decisions will now include a

financial executive on the team. Once again we are faced with a new era of

selling that will require better sales tools and a new approach. This book is

about creating the tools you will need if you are to interact with, communicate

with, and sell to C-Suite executives.

The Key to the C-Suite introduces many new concepts for selling to

senior executives. These concepts will help you better understand how to

match your value proposition to your prospects’ desire and financial ability

to buy from you. This process requires that you learn about the financial

impact your products and services will have on a prospect’s financial status.

After reading this book, you will be able to recognize key information

about your prospects that will help you determine their financial stability. In

addition, we identify a series of financial metrics that C-level executives use

to make strategic buying decisions. The Key to the C-Suite will teach you how

to discuss the value of your product or service as it relates to these defined

financial metrics. Conveying your value to a prospect must begin the first

time you meet. If you are able to identify your prospect’s issues, pains, and

goals and articulate your value as it relates to the impact on the prospect’s

most widely used financial metrics, then you are one step closer to communicating

with the C-Suite at a different level from your competition.

The first eight chapters each cover a concept that ultimately is used in

building sales tools, leading up to the development of your C-Suite business

case.As you move from chapter to chapter, you will realize the importance

of learning the concepts in one chapter before moving on to the

next. These chapters are laid out to explain the issue, discuss the solutions,

provide examples, and then summarize the ideas for you to use as you

build your own sales tools.

In Chapter 9,we put our concepts to the test in the real world.We asked

some of the best sales trainers, customers, and colleagues to answer one

simple question: “What is it that you were not taught in sales training?” (In

other words, what did you have to learn on your own?) Bryan Flanagan,

Mike Bosworth, Jill Konrath, Keith Rosen, and others tell us what they had

to learn on their own. By applying the principles presented in The Key to the

C-Suite to their comments, we give you some real-world understanding of

how to use the concepts you’ve learned throughout the book.

Our research for this book extends over the past five years and includes

participation from dozens of companies worldwide.We interviewed hundreds

of sales professionals, midlevel managers, and C-level executives from

organizations like Hewlett-Packard, Rockwell Automation, TSYS, Fiserv,

S1, GE, and Emerson Process Controls to develop the concepts and principles

used throughout the book.

Remember, work through each chapter, mastering one chapter at a

time, and you will soon be in the C-Suite successfully selling your products

and services.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Jill Konrath, xi
Acknowledgments, xiii
Introduction, 1
C H A P T E R 1
The C-Suite Effect, 3
Major C-Suite Metrics
The Value of Metrics in Selling to the C-Suite
C H A P T E R 2
Building Your Value Inventory, 11
The Uses of a Value Inventory
Creating a Value Inventory Matrix
C-Suite Impact
C H A P T E R 3
Identifying Your Prospect's Threshold for Pain, 29
Using Your Value Inventory to Create Discovery Questions
Creating Your Pain-Discovery Questions
Determining the Prospect's Threshold for Pain
Estimating Your Value to the Prospect
C H A P T E R 4
Determining Your Value to the C-Suite, 45
How Strategic Buying Decisions Are Made
Identifying Your Impact
Using Financial Reports
Financial Reports and the C-Suite
Researching Your Prospect's Financial Information
The Financial Manager's Responsibilities in an Organization
C H A P T E R 5
Collecting Information During Your Sales Process, 61
The Stages of the Sales Process
1. Qualify
2. Discovery
3. Present Solution
4. Due Diligence
5. Close
C H A P T E R 6
Creating a Financial Dashboard, 85
Building a Comprehensive Financial Dashboard
Dashboard Components
C H A P T E R 7
Presenting Your C-Suite Findings, 111
Objectivity of Interpretation
Credibility of the Data Collected
Educational Content
Both Value and Costs Presented
Creative Output
C-Suite Effect
C H A P T E R 8
Building Your Business Case, 135
Business Case Summary Results
C-Suite Effect
Expected Value Delivered Each Year (Impact)
Current Cost and Extrapolated Cost over a
Three- to Seven-Year Period
Estimated ROI, NPV, IRR, and Payback Period
Cost of Decision Delay and Cost of No Decision
Cash Flow Analysis and Impact
Contents ix
American Management Association •
Comparison of Financial Metrics to Industry Norms
Investment Breakdown
C H A P T E R 9
What They Don't Teach You in Sales Training, 155
Sales Professionals . . . Do We Really Need Them?
Get Buy-In from All the Key Players-Not Just the Executives
What Do I Do When I Am in a Sales Slump?
Nobody Cares About Your Product, Service, or Solution
It's Possible to Enter the Buyer's Journey Earlier
You Cannot Teach Rapport
Buyers Are Liars, But Then Again, Liars Are Buyers, Too
How Do You Get to the Meeting at the Level That Counts?
Learn from the Best
Learn How to Think Like a Champion
Call Higher or Die Slowly
It's Not About You
Target Marketing Is a Necessity for Sales!
You Have Two Ears and One Mouth . . . Use Them in That
C H A P T E R 1 0
Assembling the Pieces, 175
Roadmap to the C-Suite
Index, 179

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