June 2009: Is Your Brand CEO Worthy?

June 10, 2009 2:49 pm
Understanding the Decision-Making Process of Top Executives

They say everyone is different. I agree. But we’re also very much the same in many respects, shaped by the same forces, living in the same world, having many similar experiences. This holds true for CEOs as well. All too often, I encounter sales teams that are fundamentally reluctant – and sometimes flat out afraid – when it comes to presenting to CEOs. Today, I’m going to demystify the top executive seat. CEOs are people, just like you and me. As a result, their decision-making process tends to be similar as well.

Once you have a better understanding of that process, you will be in a better position to not only maximize your brand positioning, but also expedite that process…getting from meet-and-greet to close faster and more effectively than before. So here are the four decision-making steps that most small to mid-sized CEOs experience on their path to considering your brand, whether it’s a product, a sevice, or a combination of the two:

Phase I: We can handle this internally.

At this point, the CEO has identified that a problem or need exists, which means that it has become a “priority.” Most all CEOs excel at utilizing the resources at their disposal. So in Phase I, they will try to do just that; they will determine if there is a way to solve the problem or meet the need with already existing internal staff or resources. Let’s face it, from a time and cost standpoint, it’s the path of least resistance.

> What happens next: Read More.

Phase II: We need to hire somebody to handle this.

After determining that there is no internal fix for the problem or need, the CEO will next consider hiring a person to either fix the problem or fulfill the need; a white knight that essentially comes to the rescue, filling the gap and taking charge of the issue at hand.

> The Problem: Read More.
> What happens next: Read More.

Phase III: We need to “try” to work with an outside provider.

Once the CEO has determined that the internal hire does not have the sufficient skills or resources to solve the problem or fulfill the need, they will then explore outside providers. In this Phase, which I also call “Outsourcing Light,” they will put a toe in the water. Not wanting to overspend on the issue, they may bring in companies who offer a low-cost or quick-fix solution.

> The Problem: Read More.
> What happens next: Read More.

Phase IV: We need to fully commit to the “right” outside firm.
Time has passed, and in that time, the problem has either magnified or continued to simmer. But here’s the good news. During this problem-solving experience, the CEO has come to some very important realizations:
1) The problem can’t be fixed with internal resources;
2) They can’t throw a body at the problem and expect it to be solved;
2) They can’t throw a body at the problem and expect it to be solved;
3) There is no low-cost outsourced provider that can render a quick-fix or “off-the-shelf” solution.
Armed with this knowledge, the CEO is now in the precise emotional state to not only consider your brand, but also readily invest in what you have to offer. No more dancing around the problem. They are ready to confront it head on, and with your help, make it go away.
By openly sharing this knowledge the next time you are in front of a CEO, you can not only find out where they are in the decision-making process, but also establish: 1) Speed: All CEOs like to get things done sooner rather than later. By showing them these phases, you also demonstrate how your brand circumvents this process and cuts to the chase. You’ve just shaved time off what might have been a painful process for the CEO, and a painful sales cycle for you.2) Peerness: By showing your understanding of how they may be inclined to think through and tackle a problem, you inevitably put yourself (and your brand) on a peer level with the CEO, which is exactly where you must be in order to win the business.
For a glimpse of what this looks like, we’ve prepared a simple series of questions using ourselves as the test subject.
See where you are in your own
decision-making process.

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About The Author

We specialize in b2b, supporting the clients who are the "The Brands Behind the Brands." These are the supply chain partners of brands, either in Tier 1 or Tier 2 positions, who drive value through the delivery of goods, services and technologies. We enjoy blogging about all things related to Branding, Marketing, Inbound, Tradeshows, etc... And we're always happy to talk about any ideas you may have that might Get You To Your NEXT!