October 25, 2012 \ Geoff Birmingham
Breaking into the C-suite

The subject of the October roundtable at SMEI Boston was breaking into the C-suite for sales. Much of the wisdom shared came from George Adams, the CEO of ViziApps.

Of note:

  • CEOs are often approving a decision proposed by someone beneath them, rather than making one.
  • If you’ve done good marketing, and therefore have some brand awareness with the CEO, that will facilitate the sale.
  • Jim Burns at Avitage, suggested that taking a bottom up approach, rather than trying to start at the top, is sometimes more effective. Identify a champion who can persuade the CEO.
  • George redefined the challenge for sales people of breaking into the C-suite from the CEO’s suite to the “Champion’s Suite.”
  • Finding the champion isn’t always easy. Many people within an organization are most comfortable with the status quo. The champion, in contrast, is often someone who has ambition and wants to make a difference in his/her organization. They will, as a result, be more proactive in trying to implement new ideas.
  • Who is visible within a company? Who is out presenting? Those are often the folks who are upwardly mobile and good champion candidates.
  • Getting traction in a company is often about doing good research on the company first, working your existing connections to get even a small foothold with someone in the company, and then asking good questions and asking for advice. If you are sincere, people often like to share advice, and folks further down in the hierarchy can often help you identify the possible champion.