Customer Experience News & Trends

Common mistakes when selling to the top person

There are seven deal-shattering mistakes salespeople typically make when talking to CEOs, owners of companies and other high level prospects.

VITOs — Very Important Top Officers — have the ultimate veto power at any prospect company. Here are the seven most common mistakes salespeople make when talking to VITOs:

  1. Try to avoid the phrase, “Do you understand? Followed by anything. It’s a direct challenge to VITOs’ ego, power and authority. “As you may be aware” or “Were you aware of?” should be avoided for the same reason. Always assume knowledge when dealing with VITOs.
  2. It’s usually not a good idea to start a sentence with “Let me tell you” or “Let me ask you,” because these are phrases that executives use with subordinates.
  3. Try to avoid the use of the word “I,” which takes the focus off VITO. Forget about you. Ask whether VITO wants X to happen.
  4. Don’t say, “In my opinion.” If VITO wants your opinion, you’ll know. Only VITO’s opinion is up for discussion. Use phrases such as “In your opinion.”
  5. Don’t say “Listen to this.” No matter what this links up to, telling VITO to listener is a nonstarter. Saying something like “Which one of these (benefits/results) is of the greatest importance to you?” may get a better result.
  6. Don’t say “You should.” The only person who gets to say what VITO should do is VITO. Language such as “Should we?” or “Would it be best if we?” is much more appropriate.
  7. Don’t ask VITO, “Is this a good time?” Just jump into what you have to say. If it’s not a good time, VITO will let you know.

Adapted from Selling to Vito by Anthony Parinello (Adams Media, Holbrook, MA). Mr. Parinello is an author and sales consultant. Today a number of Fortune 100 and over 1.5 million salespeople have adopted VITO Selling.

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