CEOs can no longer sit out the sales process

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by: John Caddell

A CEO used to be able to sit in his office suite in the "God Pod" and issue proclamations. No longer. Now he has to get on the road and sell. And not the "glad to meet you" meetings he used to have. He is rolling up his sleeves, solving customer problems and committing the company to deliver.

So says the Wall Street Journal in its recent "In The Lead" column. Paul Otellini of Intel is one of the CEOs profiled, and it's instructive that at one of the techiest of tech companies, the CEO is a former salesperson. The article states:

Top executives like Mr. Otellini find they are working more closely than ever with their customers, and listening and responding to their requests for product customization or service and training. They are becoming involved even in the nitty-gritty of contract negotiations.

I've sold in environments where the CEO didn't want to get his hands dirty, and others where he was willing to do anything we asked to help close a sale. The former was easier on the sales team (fewer tough questions from the CEO!). The latter, as you can imagine, was far more effective in winning business.

And it was much easier to overcome internal challenges with the client project when all the operating groups knew the CEO was personally invested in the deal.

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