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C-360º Selling the Sweet Spot to C-Suite Executives

2 Oct, 2006 By: Fred Shamlian imageSource

C-360º Selling the Sweet Spot to C-Suite Executives

Ah, the C-suite. Home of the CEO, the CIO, the CFO, and now the CXO and CMO,
among others. The C-suite are the top executives which sales reps should first
ask, "Will you see me today to discuss your print management needs?"

This is the executive sweet spot, where a dealer selling document solutions
will seize the day - and the business - on a company-wide basis.

Greg Martin, President of Ray Morgan in California, summed up the C-suite
this way: "When I meet with a C-level person and make my offer – a free analysis
of their entire document workflow, with the promise of a clear view of how their
network operates and what it costs – I’ve NEVER been turned down."

But first, there are steps you need to undertake to get that result. I’m here
to tell you just how to get the ear of the C-level executive and that meeting
that is so critical to growing your business.

If one of your sales or service people made the call to the C-suite, what
would they say? According to David Gentry, Sales Representative for RJ Young, a
major office products dealer in the South, "Today, 90 percent of our business
comes from sales and service – which too often comes down to price. I want to
move the needle to sell value. Our challenge is to communicate that we’re a true
document solutions provider.  That means our people have to see themselves as
print management specialists."


1.  Set the course company-wide. Create a sense of participation among
employees and understand the mission to become a total print management
solutions provider.  Illuminate the goal and focus all eyes on the prize!

2.  Use the best print management program available to better manage your
 customers’ equipment. Remember, you’re not just selling software; a
comprehensive print management program provides you with a connection to top
quality toner and supply manufacturers, service training, sales tools and
training, fleet financing, and more.

3.  During training, have your employees play the role of the CEO, the CIO,
the CYO. The difference between selling copiers and print management quickly
becomes clear.

4.  Offer individual and team incentives for achieving clear goals. 

5.  It’s not just new systems or new knowledge. Promote new thinking and a
bold attitude.

6.  Recognize leaders. Acknowledge progress and transformation.

7.  Give the transformation program a name. Think fun. Posters, screens
savers, web content, stickers, T-shirts and fun desktop items boost the energy
level and make a big difference. A savvy marketing and design firm can add
tremendous energy and value to your communications.

"Your people don’t have to unlearn what they know to sell fleet management,"
said Ray Loisel, president of LMI Solutions and creator of the BluePrint Print
Management Program. "The goal is to embrace Print Management as a value-added
way to sell."

When a company such as A&B Business in South Dakota sells print management
exclusively, they enjoy great success getting CIOs to share end-of-lease dates
and current pricing. Instead of being perceived as pushing equipment, they
deliver a big picture solution that matters to the C-level executive.  A&B Print
Management Specialist Jason Muller believes that to deliver integrated
solutions, the key is to find the right print management system that provides
the data needed to present a comprehensive proposal to the executive level. “We
tried three, and each was a unique experience. One system, for example, produced
an 86 page report while another, BluePrint, gave us better information in just
12 pages. If you want to win over the C-suite, find a winning system that gives
your sales team simple, complete controls for printers, MFPs and document

Small, Media or Large?

So, your dealership is a fire-breathing print management monster, and you’re
eager to pick up the phone. BUT...no call is an island. Here’s a rapid-fire
guide to the media and marketing landscape:

  • TV, radio and outdoor billboards deliver visibility and name recognition
    that help open doors to the C-suite. This is where you drive home your print
    management expertise with a bold offer. Big, original, simple ideas are what
    get remembered and make your ad dollars work.

  • Yellow Pages are not for the CEO, but do matter at the equipment and
    service level. Gauge your investment carefully. More and more, online
    directories and searches are replacing print.

  • Your website is your prime marketing tool. Make it a magnet to attract
    visitors with content, services – and something special. At the A&B Business
    site, you can    download a free audit - their number one sales tool – a
    feature they intend to promote on TV.

  • Online Advertising’s best two words: paid search! Also, find the B2B
    sites your target C-level customer visits, and check into banner ads.

  • Direct Mail is widely regarded as ineffectual, but from what I’ve seen,
    the problem is the message, not the medium. Postcards or flyers pushing
    product deals won’t even make it into the C-suite. Make your mail matter
    with a brief etter and free audit offer from one CEO to another. A real
    signature on a hand-written note will boost response.

  • Telemarketing is where the dollars go first as most dealers are sales
    driven, and with good reason. Just make sure it’s the right pitch to the
    right person. If the call really counts, have your CEO call their C. Even
    the busiest executive can manage two sales calls a day. With this one
    success habit, you’ll make 40 important calls per month.

Sweets for the Suite

We have a saying at Shamlian Advertising: "Want presence? Give presents." In
other words, delight the CIO by creating a winning relationship which honors the
profession while connecting with the person.  We call this approach Love 360º. 
All you need are measurable goals, a realistic budget, and creative marketers
who "get it" and help you deliver the goods. Chocolate truffles are a winning
follow-up to sales calls for Ray Morgan. Golf balls with the LMI logo score for
maker of Blue Print.

For your top prospects, here’s a potent strategy:  form a Club for CIOs.

Give your club a clever name,  an engaging mission and a wry website to
amuse, support and recognize CIOs – individually and collectively. Begin with a
congratulatory letter and membership certificate suitable for framing.  A
welcome kit could include a lapel pin, bumper sticker,  T-shirt, baseball cap,
membership card or custom tie.

A mix of regular mailings and emails might include:

  • Clever greeting cards a CIO can send to employees or industry peers.

  • Mock-serious posters the CIO can put up around the office to purportedly
    drive his IT employees to greater productivity.

  • Regular emails that mix helpful industry content with invented news
    stories such as The Onion for CIOs.

  • A special honor, for reasons duly noted, allowing the CIO to select
    someone on his staff to join the club.

Consider creating  several events a year to bring members together – golf,
lunch, a breakfast, an education event, a picnic, or even a tongue-in-cheek
awards dinner. In time, your dealership will enjoy a commanding position within
the IT community as the club takes on a life of its own.

So, prep the team, target your marketing, launch the club, and make the
call.  You’re ready to effectively engage with the C-suite.

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