Successful CEOs must be able to pitch and close

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Strategic business consultant Joey Tamer has become well-known in Fortune 500 circles for her no-holds-barred advice on leadership, including her list of 10 characteristics of a successful CEO. One of the 10 characteristics is something that dairy executives need but don’t often get to practice: How to pitch an idea and close a deal.

Say you want to hit up your bank for another loan, or approach the next Noosa Yogurt and ask them to use your cows as their exclusive suppliers. Maybe you want to make a big ask of other community leaders for a philanthropic cause. Whatever the case may be, knowing how to present your idea in a strategic, compelling fashion and follow it up with a confident “ask” is a life skill for CEOs. 

“Passion for your idea, product, service or company is not enough,” Tamer writes on her blog. “You must learn the basics of selling, even if you have had no experience or interest in this before — especially if you have had no interest in this before. And I mean you should go through an intensive, professional training program in selling. It may be only a few days’ training, but you need to understand the context of selling and the tactics of closing. There are a surprising number of folks who can pitch, and not so many who can carry the sale through to the close.” 

Specifically, Tamer writes, CEOs need to learn how to overcome objections, refuse to take “no” for an answer more times than they can imagine and strengthen their resolve to keep moving forward in the sales cycle to get to the close. 

Tamer is a proponent of the Xerox Sales Training Manual, which she calls a perennial bible of sales training and which teaches that “no” doesn’t mean “no” until after the eighth time it is said. 

“Until that point, everything was simply an objection to be overcome,” she writes. “And then there was a new strategy to handle the eighth ‘no.’ When I explain this to some of my CEO clients, they can not imagine hearing a refusal eight times and continuing to sell.” 

And no, she writes, a CEO cannot have a member of his or her team perform this function and still hope to meet with the same success. For better or worse, the CEO is seen as the foundation of a business and the rock upon which future success will be built. To be totally dependent on another member of the team to generate capital weakens the company and calls into question a CEO’s ability to lead it into the future. 

“As CEO, you need to be able to support your vision with this skill,” she concludes.



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