The Coaching Effect Blog

A strong value proposition when selling to executives

Posted by Kristi Shoemaker

March 26, 2010

Posted by: Kristi Shoemaker, VP Marketing, EcSELL Institute

We had another fantastic sales management webinar today. Our featured instructor was Dr. Steve Bistritz, Founder and President of and author of the recently published book - Selling To The C-Suite.  Dr. Bistritz shared information from research conducted with C-level executives (CEO, CIO, CSO, COO) who revealed secrets about their personal relationships with professional salespeople - what works and what doesn't work when it comes to selling at the top.

Here are a few highlights!

When cultivating client relationships, you need to look at the org chart and ask yourself... 

- Who has the formal power for an
IT-based customer service solution?  

- Who has the informal power for
that same decision?

- Who is the relevant executive
for this opportunity?

Q: With regard to priority, which executive should you be aligning with to help you win the deal?

A: The executive who stands to gain
the most or lose the most by the outcome of the project or application associated with the sales opportunity - the relevant executive.


Dr. Bistritz also talked about how to get your foot in the door. In his research he asked the question, " Assuming your company was considering a major purchase, how likely would you be to schedule a meeting with a salesperson if the request came from..."

1. A recommendation from someone inside your organization

16% Always / 68% Ususally / 16% Ocassionally / 0% never

2. A referral from outside the company

8% Always / 36% Ususally / 44% Ocassionally / 12% never

3. A letter from a salesperson followed up by a direct phone call

4% Always / 20% Ususally / 40% Ocassionally / 36% never

4. A direct phone call from a salesperson

0% Always / 20% Ususally / 36% Ocassionally / 44% never


Another item that was discussed was the creation of a strong value proposition. Key elements of an effective value proposition include:

  - It addresses the client's issue(s) and focuses on payback or consequences as it relates to the client's business initiative

 - Describes how you can help, in both a qualitative and quantitative form

 - Might include an example of how you addressed a similar problem at another company

Here is an example of a value proposition:

You should be capable of (describe the impact) by (monetary units or %) through the ability to (describe the new situation). This will require an investment of (state the cost of the solution) which will be returned within (estimate the time frame for return).

If you would like a copy of the slides, send me a direct email at:


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