Executive Calling | Sales Development | Wilson Learning Worldwide

Impact des Managers

Executive Calling

Télécharger le PDF

First published on SalesandMarketing.com, May 2016.

For several decades, sales leaders and managers have favoured the practice of calling higher in customer organisations. Over the same time span, this idea has persisted but the business environment has undergone many changes. Technology has changed the way we sell and the way our customers shop and buy. Recessions have given way to recoveries, and yet we still take it for granted that calling higher leads to larger sales, more revenue, and more profit.

Senior executives, the target of these elevated calls,report that sales representatives who truly bring value into these meetings are few and far between.

Still a Good Idea?

Is calling higher still a good idea? How does it work in practice? What does it look like when it works? What can go wrong? What supporting practises must be in place in order for executive calls to be effective? And, most importantly, do your customer executives see value in the practice?

We Asked Executives

Wilson Learning interviewed senior executives about their role in their organisation, their role in purchasing, and their experiences working with vendor sales reps.

“In a sixty-hour workweek, there are only so many thirty-minute increments” “. . . it is amazing how many representatives call to get acquainted” . . . “I see them all once; then I select who I will see again.”

The results of these discussions offer strong guidance about when calling higher works, when it doesn’t work, and how it works when it works well.

Executives Don’t Buy Products

Senior executives do not make buying decisions; they empower and support others to purchase products or services. Senior executives are, however, very interested in making sure purchasing decisions and processes fulfil the strategic aims of their organisation. While they don’t make buying decisions, they do define the context in which those decisions find meaning, demonstrate purpose, and drive performance. Senior executives tend to have an adverse reaction to a meeting that starts to look, sound, and smell like a sales call.

Two Key Messages
  1. Senior executives meet with sales reps for their own reasons. They are quite clear about their criteria for getting involved at this stage, and they have high expectations the meeting will meet these criteria.
  2. Senior executives take meetings when trusted colleagues ask them. Executives coach their management teams to make decisions about when to involve them. These trusted managers are your best access to discover what senior executives are concerned with and what their expectations are when meeting with vendors.

These two messages have profound implications for sales representatives seeking to call high in their customer organizations.

Know the Customer Organisation: Multiple Points of Contact

Sales representatives need to build and explore a network of multiple connections within their customer organisations in order to gain a full understanding of how the organisation’s strategy plays out vertically and horizontally across the organisation. Salespeople who can bring a thoroughly informed perspective of the customer organisation find that senior executives welcome their insights.

Calling Higher: Elevate the Focus of the Conversation

When calling higher, the focus of the conversation needs to be higher as well. Instead of focusing on discovering needs, matching features to needs, or comparing specifications of competing solutions, salespeople need to be prepared to deliver business-level value when they meet with senior executives. This means they need to be prepared to demonstrate a broad knowledge of the customer’s industry and a deep knowledge of the customer organisation’s strategic focus and short- and long-term goals. Senior executives expect you to know all of this walking in. They expect you to be familiar with the industry-wide issues they face every day and, to some extent, with current successes and shortcomings in executing their strategy. In short, senior executives have specific requirements that a meeting with a vendor representative will provide significant business value.

Create Business Value

So where does this business value come from? As it turns out, experienced salespeople can provide a valuable “consultant-like” perspective that is distinct enough from an executive’s own perspective to provide value. Salespeople who can successfully represent complex products or technical services and solutions most often have considerable experience across multiple industries. At a minimum, they know their own industry, their client organisations’ industries, and quite a bit about the customers of their client organisations. In the same way that binocular vision allows for depth perception, the salesperson’s perspective when added to the senior executive’s perspective can make sense of complexity and provide new insight into business activity.

Critical Success Factors

One way to collect and organise the information that will be the source of value to senior executives is by developing a multi-dimensional analysis of the critical success factors (CSFs) that impact the customer organisation’s business operations.

Critical success factors can be defined as those few key areas of activity in which favourable results are absolutely necessary for an organisation to achieve their goals. Simply speaking, CSFs are a means to an end.

For example:

  • A financial services company that wants to ensure a personal touch is enabled by the efficiency of their IT infrastructure.
  • A consumer goods company that wants to react quickest to their customers' changing demands needs to increase effectiveness of their supply chain management.
Characteristics of CSFs

Critical success factors can be both general to an industry and specific to one company, or even to one line of business within a company.

They can vary by level or function within the customer organisation and can change over time. As the organisation makes progress in executing their strategy, new and unexpected sources of criticality can arise.

Since all business activities are “linked” and to some degree impact business performance, an analysis of critical success factors can reveal both impending performance weaknesses and potential performance surges. In addition, a thorough CSF analysis presented to senior executives confirms the urgency to address the uncovered issues.

Executive Call Strategy

There are three clusters of activity critical to a successful executive call strategy:

  1. Actions taken before the call
  2. Actions taken while conducting the executive call
  3. Actions taken after the call
Before the Strategic Business Call

Before you can conduct a call with a senior executive, it is critical to call broadly in the customer organisation to explore critical success factors at several levels in the organisation. The business-level value you eventually deliver is discovered in both your research and in exploratory calls across the customer organisation.

Conducting the Strategic Business Call

Successful calls with senior executives quickly deliver findings about critical success factors impacting the business results in the customer organization. Much of the call is spent in dialogue with customer executives to explore the implications and potential paths of action. Done well, senior executives will begin to freely share and explore these implications. It is important to conclude the conversation with an agreement for next steps.

Following Up After the Call

A well-executed and clearly presented CSF analysis inevitably leads to a productive, future-oriented conversation that typically identifies multiple actions for further attention. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the potential advantages of calling on senior executives. By calling widely throughout the customer organisation and developing a multidimensional CSF analysis, you will be seen as the source of new insights into actions that protect or enhance business performance. Then your company’s solutions, products, and services will be seen as linked to these future performance gains.

Executive Calling: A Very Good Idea, When Executed Well!

Calling on senior executives is still a very good idea. Armed with careful preparation, and a disciplined approach to exploring the CSFs impacting the customer organisation, successful sales representatives have proven the ability to deliver business value to senior executives. The sales representatives who can execute this kind of approach will quickly see revenue growth and increased profits.

Pour en savoir plus, contactez Wilson Learning au 01 47 51 70 70 or rendez-vous sur notre site Internet at WilsonLearning.com.

About the Author
David Yesford

David Yesford

David Yesford est Vice-Président de Wilson Learning Worldwide. Fort de plus de 30 ans d'expérience dans le développement et la mise en oeuvre dans le monde entier de solutions visant à améliorer la performance humaine, M. Yesford apporte à son travail une expertise précieuse, une orientation stratégique et une perspective globale. Il a occupé au sein de Wilson Learning des postes stratégiques dans les domaines clés de la vente et du leadership, ainsi que de l'e-learning et du conseil stratégique.

M. Yesford a contribué à l'écriture de plusieurs livres et a été publié dans diverses revues commerciales à travers le monde. Il intervient régulièrement lors d'événements internationaux sur les sujets de la vente, du leadership, de l'engagement des employés et des clients, de la marque et de la mise en oeuvre de stratégies.

Lire la suite de David Yesford

Abonnez-vous maintenant! Se il vous plaît remplir ce formulaire pour vous inscrire pour recevoir des articles et des documents.

* Les champs obligatoires

Wilson Learning wishes to use your details to send you communications regarding our products, services, and insights into leadership and sales training. Your data will not be shared with any third parties and will only be used by Wilson Learning Worldwide, Inc. and its subsidiaries, agents, and authorised distributors.

 I would like to receive further marketing related email communications from Wilson Learning.
Wilson Learning respects your privacy under the General Data Protection Regulation.

J’accepte Je n’accepte pas

Comme de nombreux sites Web, ce site Web définit et utilise des témoins afin d'améliorer votre expérience d'utilisateur . Vous pouvez lire notre politique ici.

Je donne mon autorisation pour l’utilisation de cookies sur ce site.