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Selling to the C-Suite

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Selling to the C-Suite

What Every Executive Wants You to Know About Successfully Selling to the Top


15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

As a salesperson who wants to reach senior executives, are you a talking brochure (bad) or a value creator (good)?

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


If you are in sales, getAbstract thinks you’ll like this book by Nicholas A.C. Read and Stephen J. Bistritz, who offer solid advice on how to sell to senior-level executives. They start by helping you identify and gain access to the “C-Suite” denizen – that is, the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer or other chiefs – you want to approach. The authors base their suggestions on hard data: the results of surveys conducted by Target Marketing Systems, Hewlett-Packard, the business school at the University of North Carolina and other institutions. Hundreds of senior-level executives answered survey questions about how they work with the “buying cycle” and with sales professionals. The authors derive useful lessons from this research to help salespeople transform themselves from “Commodity Suppliers” to “Trusted Advisers.” They explain the best tactics for getting to know executives, establishing credibility and making sales as an insider who has earned the boss’s confidence. The question is whether you can get upstairs the way they advise – by cultivating mid-level managers who can make that crucial suggestion to the top boss: “I know a salesperson you should meet.”


Deliver Value, Not Product Details

If you are trying to make sales by being a “talking brochure,” you are missing the elevator to the executive office. C-level executives can learn all they want about your offering on your website. To sell, you must deliver more. Create value by helping clients find viable solutions to their problems. Making large sales requires spending time with relevant senior executives who can authorize or greatly influence purchases. Once you obtain a meeting with high-ranking people, your initial job is not to sell but to help them address their firms’ issues. Your goal is to become an adviser they call upon for data and support. Salespeople often climb four levels of proficiency on the way to becoming advisers:

  1. “Commodity Supplier” – They meet their clients’ demands for goods, but that’s it.
  2. “Emerging Resource” – They know their clients’ needs and have credibility.
  3. “Problem Solver” – They see their clients’ perspectives and offer valued resources.
  4. “Trusted Adviser” – They are alert to what their customers say and signal. As well-regarded insiders...

About the Authors

Nicholas A.C. Read, winner of the 2005 Independent Business Awards’ “Best Sales Trainer” recognition, leads a sales consulting firm. Stephen J. Bistritz, Ed.D., who has more than 40 years of sales experience, heads a sales training firm.

Comment on this summary

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    F. S. 9 years ago
    Although most salespeople know that discussing features and functions does not win a deal, many fail to paint a bigger picture and sell strategic value instead of products. I liked the book!
  • Avatar
    J. A. 9 years ago
    Many salespeople don't advance their sales cycles properly because they are not engaging C-level contacts. I agree with the summary and found the book very relevant.

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