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If it's so simple, why do so many marketing and salespeople misunderstand what's on a C-level's mind


While most C-level people care about 3 things: 1) How Much 2) How Soon 3) How Sure do your marketing people only consider their product's features, how their product is the solution and why their proposition is better than the competition? And if that is the start point, how can we be surprised if sales people struggle to achieve the results demanded of them?


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Opened by Marek Baldy, The Communications & Commercial Chap, TIW Group Ltd
Oct 1, 2012.



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Roz Bennetts B2B Sales, B2B Sales Professional
Oct 28, 2012

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Marek,

I've seen this debated elsewhere and written about it myself.

I believe part of the source of the problem is simple - very, very few sales and/or marketing people are C-level themselves. Those who are, who sit on the leadership committees of their own companies, who probably manage a few of the firm's biggest accounts have an easier time of it as they're exposed to the inner workings and pressures of a business so can more easily relate to C-level issues in their clients.

That notwithstanding, the only way a regular sales or marketing executive is going to be able to understand CxO issues and be able to provide the CxO client with a C-level 'experience' are those who take the time and effort to understand the typical C-level's mind and the C'level's business. Business acumen is a must, it's absolutely not enough to have good sales skills learned in sales school. These days it's all about value creation and understanding your clients' business, this is not simple. But that's the only way you're going to get and hold a C-levels attention and most importantly get a second audience.

I posted an article (not written by me I hasten to add, it was written by Anthony Iannarino a very clever guy!) on my blog addressing this subject, here's the link: How to be Interesting and Useful to C-Level Executives I'd love to bring the conversation back here and discuss further. Roz
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Antoine Fournier Head of ECM, Input and Output management, Zurich Insurance
Oct 1, 2012

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This is true in lot of fields: As a matter a fact, when participating to RFI or RFP, we have to prove that we can surely do what customer want, in suitable timeframe for reasonable cost.

Then, it comes to competition.

At this point, convincing that we give more added values to the customer is key to make the deal. When only those who succeeded answering the 3 questions are on the start line, the winner is the one first on finish. Right?
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Marek Baldy 01 Marek Baldy The Communications & Commercial Chap, TIW Group Ltd

Oct 7, 2012
In my experience a prospect is only convinced when their needs are met, and my point is their needs are rarely the same as the features of a product/service. Sadly product features is what many marketing people concentrate on because that's their world, one they understand and often the only one they take the trouble to find out about. True marketing success (which leads to sales) comes from understanding the prospect's business and communicating a proposition in their terms.

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Antoine Fournier Head of ECM, Input and Output management, Zurich Insurance
Oct 7, 2012

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Francois Demers (www.Army-of-frogs.com) gave me this reply on Google+:

"C-level behaviour or purchasing policies are very real but there are no C-level minds.Unless you want to add:
  1. how likely to get me fired?
  2. will the boss like these people?
  3. will this meeting end before the Mayan calendar?
  4. what's for dinner?
And that list is obviously not complete.

I answered a lot of RFIs and RFPs knowing I am not going to win: I do not know the client; the client does not know me. The client person. Their management enforces a purchasing process that makes it impossible to get to know each other? I lose to someone they already know. Reputation is a key driver of sales.

The second mistake: in difficult times, management focuses on making the cash register ring - with a microscope. Marketing follows with a product/price strategy (it is not a strategy, it is a tactic). Then the sales people will struggle. Always did, always will because this tactic makes the brand disappear into a trademarked commodity. In commodity markets, only price matters: even "how soon? how sure?" tend to matter less and less with time.

When the client decides that they will buy by the rules of the C-game and you are not number 1 in your category, you have three options:
  1. Change the rules
  2. Change the category in the client's mind
  3. Leave the game."
What do you think?
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