For many B2B companies, a gigantic sales staff is not in their arsenal. This is understandable; many B2B companies are small and have to stretch the resources they do have. Because of this, the CEO sometimes ends up taking on the role of the entire sales department, from the junior rep who does cold calls to the senior executive that closes.
From our experience selling B2B products and services for the past 13 years, we have found that there are several issues with this approach.
It may seem like a good idea to have your CEO selling through the entire sales process, as he knows the most and is the most senior. But in reality, he does not belong selling at the front of the pipe. It is like walking through the front door of a business and seeing the CEO sitting at the receptionist desk. It just doesn’t feel right.
This is because selling this way creates issues with perception. If your CEO is the first person a prospect interacts with at your company, he or she may be left wondering, “Is there no one else working there that can take my call?” or “Why isn’t someone else doing this?”
Additionally, this practice is inefficient in regards to business. If your CEO is selling to every prospect that comes in the pipe, he is going to spend a lot of time selling to people who are simply kicking tires. Because your CEO is your highest value employee, having him sell to people who are not really interested equates to a lot of time and money wasted.
The reality of B2B sales today is in the early stages of the sales process, prospects simply want to know you understand their problem as they explore their solution options and short list preferred vendors. When a prospect is new to the sales pipeline, they may be quite overwhelmed by their problem. A senior executive may exacerbate this feeling by speaking beyond the prospects grasp of the issue, moving to quickly or just creating an environment where the prospect is overwhelmed with jargon, numbers and statistics. Regardless of the situation, no one likes to feel like they are way behind.
Here are our suggestions for an alternative approach:
- Hold your CEO back in the early stages of selling and use his expertise and passion as a closing tool.
- Clone your CEO’s early-stage sales efforts into digital content that can be shared one-to-many by more junior employees
- Use your CEOs expertise when other executives are at the table who are peers and speak the same ‘language’
This approach does several things. First, it increases your bandwidth for selling by enabling you to engage with many people simultaneously. It also allows you to determine what parts of your sales or marketing process are working and what aren’t. Finally, it allows your highest value employee to focus on your highest value activities—closing, delivering and growing the business.