Sales Training Article: 4 Qualifications for Sellers to Earn SDM Face-time

By Michael Higgins, CEO of Selling at the C-level and CustomerCentric Selling® Strategic Alliance Partner

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Focusing on delivering value (what matters to the customer) instead of our own products’ bells and whistles (what matters to us) is a powerful competitive advantage.

Here’s a question: Is the value proposition we want to deliver to our customer’s Senior Decision Makers (SDMs), e.g., buyers at the C-level, different than the one we would deliver to other lower-level managers? The answer, emphatically, is yes!

Senior Decision Makers think, speak and act using the language of business, which is finance. It is similar to visiting a country where the language spoken is different than our native tongue. A good way to get along and enjoy the country as an insider would be to have a great interpreter. An even better way to succeed and thrive in a different country than our own is to speak, understand and respond in the native tongue.

The country that SDM’s inhabit is no different.

CustomerCentric Selling® is the most customer and value-focused methodology in the selling world. It equips salespeople with a repeatable process and Sales Ready Messaging®. And in the process, it helps customers come to a buying decision in an organic and almost inevitable sequence.

Selling to SDM’s requires an additional embedded skillset that not all CCS®-trained salespeople naturally have or even easily relate to. Enter  an advanced CCS® skillset.

Please consider your own sales team: Are your salespeople confident enough in their financial acumen skills to communicate as equals, i.e., speak in the business/financial language of your customer’s senior managers?

Senior managers have different requirements for giving a salesperson their time than managers at the mid-level. Their concerns are more global and strategic. They want to know what problem you solve and the strategic, financial statement impact of your product and services.

The first question on the mind of an SDM meeting with your salesperson is:

“Do you really understand my problem and can you help me see it – and solve it – in a way I haven’t seen before?”

Only after a salesperson has satisfied that criterion will a senior manager allow them access to their second concern:

“What is your strategic financial business case and how will it impact my own financial objectives, bottom lines and crucial metrics?”

If salespeople try to sell features, benefits and details, they will quickly be sent downstairs to the managers who worry about those. Then, the person selling your company’s proposal to your customer’s senior managers will no longer be your salesperson. Your salesperson will become the mid-level manager to whom your salesperson was delegated.

Do your salespeople have the acumen they need? If you’re not sure, consider how they rank in the following four (4) qualifications for earning senior manager face-time:

1. What is the literacy of your salespeople with annual reports, CEO letters, financial statements (all three!) and key drivers? Do they have access to industry segment information and enough financial acumen to glean a senior manager’s likely concerns before they even have their meeting?

2. Does your sales force go after problems in enough financial depth to be seen as consultants on the problem before posing a solution?

3. Does your sales force have enough financial acumen to keep up with a senior-level conversation about financial impact without having to “fake it?” Can they stay with your customer’s senior managers beyond a tactical view of an issue to the strategic, financial bigger-view?

4. Do they really understand your strategic business case and go-to-market strategy? Can they communicate those simply and clearly? And, can they quickly and credibly connect the impact of your business case, products and services to the senior manager’s strategic and financial statement concerns?

If your answer to these questions is “No” or “I’m not sure”,  will give your salespeople what they need and turn your sales force into more confident, financially strategic partners with your customer’s senior managers.

Take a look at the sales training workshops available to you.