sell to ceo

How to sell to the CEO

Do you have trouble making sales, and a tough time getting through to the decision maker?

As CEO of a top 10 global hotel chain, I get hit on a lot by vendors. But the reality is, I hardly ever buy. That’s because most people don’t know how to sell effectively.

I met Kemmons Wilson, the founder of Holiday Inns many years ago. Someone asked him the secret to selling and he said, “The easiest way to sell is to let other people buy.” What he meant was, offer something valuable to that person, then stand back and let them make the decision.

I met one of the best salesmen I have ever seen last October 2013 in Edinburgh, where I was attending a Siteminder distribution technology seminar. One of the presenters, Maarten Plesman from Revinate walked up to me afterward and asked if I had a moment to visit.

He pulled out a white envelope and said that his team had spent 9 months analyzing review score data on over 1000 Magnuson Hotels, and that he had some ideas on how we could increase room rates and brand ratings for each hotel without much effort. He said if it wasn’t a good time to chat, he could leave it with me. Well, we had that visit, and by Christmas we signed a chainwide agreement with Revinate.

My point is, don’t sell to anyone unless you have something they need. Don’t ever tell someone ‘I want your business.’ That’s like telling them you just want their money. It’s no different than the basic manners of don’t come to another person’s house for dinner without a nice bottle of wine or some flowers.

So, here are some basic rules on how to sell to the CEO.

  1. Research your prospect; make sure you know their business.
  2. Offer them something they clearly need at a fair price.
  3. Focus and repeat, make 25 calls a day, not emails.
  4. When you follow up, do not ever call or email unless you have something new to add. Don’t ever say, “I’m calling to see if you got the proposal.” Instead, each time you follow up, let them know that you’ve just added a new feature that was not in the original, or let them know a new market development that is key to helping them. Always bring a gift.
  5. Always ask if it is a good time to talk, don’t firehose them with your pitch as soon as they answer the call.
  6. Use a good system like salesforce.com to stay on track and maximize your time.
  7. When you are in a slump, get to work earlier. Each time Bill Clinton faced political doom, he went to work earlier every day. It kept him focussed and always put him back on top.

Follow these simple rules religiously, and soon you will be taking the calls instead of making them.

Share: Email this to someoneShare on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponPrint this page