Leadership Language: How to Speak to CEOs

Learning a company's management structure and decision-making process can help close their decision.

August 7, 2019

4 Min Read
Boss, CEO


Julie Dzubay

By Julie Dzubay, Vice President of Sales Operations, WTG

Channel-Partners-Insights-logo-300x109.pngHave you ever had one of those prospects where you’re proposing a solution that’s a no-brainer but you can’t get them to pull the trigger? Knowing the two business practices your prospect is using for their decision making and execution will help you close deals faster.

You’re a methodical, reputable consultant. You’ve done your research and identified a cost-effective technology configuration that yields a superior customer experience and improves productivity through automating several manual processes.

You’ve clearly communicated how specific products and services will be integrated to achieve these important outcomes and you’ve provided the attractive return on investment for your proposed solution.

You’ve validated the prospect’s buy-in with closing questions throughout the presales process. For example, “In your opinion, would the solution I’m proposing improve your clients experience in working with your company?”

With each step, you’ve received affirmative buying responses from the prospect, yet with each attempt to obtain a signature, the prospect is just not ready yet. They have no objections to the price, solution or vendor selection. They recognize the benefits and the solution aligns with their current priorities.

How can you help them to move forward?

Connect the Dots

By understanding how your prospect’s leadership team makes decisions and executes on initiatives, you can connect the dots for them on how they can choose to move forward with your solution and execute on the implementation within the framework of their standard business practices.

The business owner/CEO that simply pulls the trigger based on the information in their head or a gut feel is more a scarcity than the norm. Usually there are budget considerations, operational process considerations and some shifts in responsibilities requiring buy-in of new metrics.

It’s important, first, to understand how the CEO or leadership makes decisions. This business practice tends to be very personal to each business leader. They may have adopted a structure from an MBA program, or based their process on experience with a previous company or tips from a professional CEO peer group such as Vistage, a peer mentoring membership organization for CEOs, business owners and executives of small- to midsized businesses.

Let’s use the Vistage decision making process as an example. Vistage members support each other with a framework called Issue Processing:

“Top-performing companies are led by executives that see decision-making as a core competency in and of itself. They apply a consistent process that is conscious, structured and tailored to them as individuals. At Vistage, we often recommend that CEOs consider our framework for decision-making that integrates instinct, judgement and perspectives.”

By acknowledging and confirming your solution with the CEO utilizing their decision-making process, you can confirm they’ve made the decision to move forward with your solution.

The last step is to understand the management structure that your prospect uses. Understanding their management structure gives you the ability to outline objectives and key results associated with your solution. A couple of the most popular management strategies are objectives and key results (OKRs) and management by objectives (MBOs). If you’re personally using a management strategy, it will be easy for you to translate the implementation and management of your solution into a few basic objectives that can be easily adopted by the organization.

Not only is this giving your prospect an “Easy Button” to initiate their digital transformation, it will also strengthen your position as a trusted adviser by being able to easily relate to their business and highlight the value you add.

Julie Dzubay is vice president of sales operations at WTG and previously was director of indirect sales operations at Electric Lightwave Integra. She earned a master’s degree in telecommunications and marketing at Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota and a bachelor’s in psychology at the University of South Dakota. She also is chair of the Alliance of Channel Women’s mentoring committee and a Channel Partners editorial advisory board member. Find Julie on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter @WTGCOM or @JulieZub.

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