Over the years I have worked with many CEO’s and the best ones fully understand their role as The Selling CEO. This article is written for the rest of you. The CEO of any organization is not only the Chief Executive Officer but the CSO or Chief Selling Officer. As the CEO he or she must sell their vision, mission and values along with their products or services. In fact they are in a constant state of selling; ideas, proposals, concepts, projects, etc. Whether it is to their executive team, their front line employees, their board or their banker they need to be champions of sales.
It all starts with the person. In Tom Stanley’s book; The Millionaire Mind he states that all self-made millionaires have four common characteristics; integrity, discipline, good interpersonal skills and finally courage. Although courage is not on the list with the first three, he does say in later chapters that most of these individuals will be found in church on Sunday, thus their Spiritual connection gives them courage. I am reminded of Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
I believe the CEO too must possess these qualities. Integrity being the key to any selling situation, always doing what’s in the best interest of employees and customers. “For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.” Proverbs 2:6-8
The next critical element for every selling CEO, or any sales professional for that matter, is understanding your “why”. Most people in either position understand what they do, they can generally explain how they do it but rarely do they understand the why of their products or services. A CEO must sell from their “why”, not the “what” or “how”. Ask yourself, why does my company exist in the eye of my customers? What difference do we make in the marketplace, in the world for that matter? The best example of this is Apple, they truly understand their “why”, which fuels their success! To explore this concept further I suggest reading both Start with Why by Simon Sinek and It’s Not What You Sell but What You Stand For by Roy M. Spence, Jr.
Moving on as the Selling CEO you must have a compelling vision for your organization. We are all familiar with the verse in Proverbs 29:18B, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” A passionate leader with a clear vision will inspire “sell” other to excel.
I won’t spend much time on mission because that ties back to your “why”. I do want to close this article with “values”. Values are the anchor for any organization, they will guide each individual in the organization on how they respond to customer service issues, quality focus and frankly every action and interaction in the company. The Selling CEO must have a strong set of core values, these values translate to the company’s values, which serve as a moral compass or guide for everyone.
In my 30 plus years as a sales professional as well as a trusted advisor to executives and CEO’s I learned that without these fundamentals, the Selling CEO will fall short. Live with integrity, courage, discipline, abnd develop your interpersonal skills. Understand your “why”, develop a compelling vision and set a strong set of values that act as a compass to all concerned. Remember every CEO is a Selling CEO.