Recognizing and increasing your value to the real buyer is key to making a sale – and it is also what can unravel your deals if you don’t do it the right way. In this episode, Doug C. Brown and Aziz Musa, founder of Cush Digital, discuss top strategies for selling to CEOs and other high-powered decision-makers. They discuss finding solutions to problems your buyer may not be aware of, why you should address concerns and issues during sales conversations, expert strategies for stellar pitches, and much more.
Aziz Musa’s journey is a testament to visionary leadership and indomitable spirit. As the youngest public company CEO in the UK, he had already carved a niche for himself in the corporate world. Yet, it was his bold move to Sudan in 2017 that defines his legacy. With an aim to build a digital economy, Aziz founded Cush.Digital. However, as war erupted, businesses crumbled, and the landscape became increasingly volatile, he made the strategic decision to relocate to Egypt. Despite these challenges, Cush.Digital didn’t just survive; it thrived, emerging as North Africa’s premier digital marketing agency and making waves in the Middle East.
I have an amazing guest for you. His name is Mr. Aziz Musa, and he is the CEO of his own company. He has been the former CEO of other companies. He owned multiple companies in his life. We’re going to talk about how you sell to CEOs and how they like to be sold to. Also, how do you sell to everyone else in the room who is an influencer to the buyer? Maybe there is a proxy buyer, one of those other people who also is a buyer in the room, and making sure you recognize that and recognize who the real buyer is or buyers are in that room. Take your pen, paper, digital pen, or mental notes, whatever you are using. This is going to be a great episode. Let’s go speak to him now.
Aziz, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for being here.
It is my pleasure, Doug. How are you doing?
As we were talking earlier, I’m doing pretty good, other than the fact that I had a little bit of food poisoning. That was a lot of fun.
You’re a trooper. You’re still going at it. I’m full of energy, so I hope I’m like that. I hope I never get food poisoning.
Thank you. If I start sweating, that’s the reason why, but the show must go on. That’s one of the traits that if you want to have some success in life, even when you can crawl and move, you have to continue on. That’s what I figure anyway. Why don’t we set the frame here? I love what you do as a company. I love your backend story on this whole thing. Why don’t we start there? What do you do for a company and how did it start?
I’m the Founder of a digital marketing agency called Cush Digital. We’re a pure-play digital marketing agency. We’re based in Egypt and the Middle East region, essentially. Why am I doing that? I didn’t set out to start a big agency. I set out to create a social enterprise. I’ve been the CEO of a listed company for a number of years in the UK and worked for big companies in the digital space in the UK, Australia, France, and the States.
I was very much from that corporate background, and I felt like I wanted to give something back. I set up a social enterprise and created a bespoke training program to essentially take anyone out of university or college with a half-decent degree and make them into a valuable digital marketer within 3 to 6 months. The aim was to train people and give them opportunities. What morphed out of that was this company, Cush Digital, which has ended up being one of the largest digital marketing agencies in the region with clients around the globe from Australia and Singapore to France and Cambodia.
You started out doing what I would call a good mission deed. You’re helping other people to get to where they want to go. That turned into universal reciprocation, which showed you a way to take that and create this amazing company out of it and serve lots and lots of clients.
It’s funny how that works in life. When you set out to do the right thing, good tends to follow you. I set out to do good. I didn’t set out to do anything other than that. We don’t tell our clients that we’re a social enterprise. I’m very much capitalist and I believe in free market economics. I believe that successful companies succeed and bad companies fail. I live that ethos. We never set out to compete or to grow but by doing the right thing. We found ourselves in a fortunate position. I’m lucky to do the thing I love doing, which is great.
That’s part of the key to happiness in life. I always teach people to do the same thing in selling. Do the right thing by the person. Sometimes you’re not going to win the sale, but you win the long-term game playing this way. I’m so grateful to have you on because you’re a CEO and lots of people want a sizable company. A lot of people want to know, “How do I sell to CEOs and how do they like to be sold to?” I once had a CEO tell me, “I don’t want to be sold to, I want to buy.” Somebody’s going to approach one of your companies. They want to get to you as the CEO. How would you like to have that presentation of the person and the business potential ROI or a personal ROI presented to you?
Let’s go back to your friend who said, “I don’t want to be sold, I want to buy.” The sentiment that he’s getting at is something I completely agree with. It’s not so much that I want to buy, it’s more that I want you to solve a problem. I need you as a sales director or whatever it is that you are to understand my industry and to solve a specific problem. Now, some problems I know that I have, and that’s great.
If I know I’ve got a problem and you come to me with a solution, then either you are fortuitous in your timing or you’ve done exceptional research. Most of the time, I don’t know if I have that problem or I don’t have that problem. That’s what separates those who excel in getting to the C-level from those who are playing a spray-and-pray game.
It’s, “Do you truly understand the industry? Do you understand the challenges that I face or I’m about to face? Do you have a solution that’s going to help me overcome those challenges?” A lot of that is down to research. A lot of that is about talking to the people in the industry. Most importantly, when you get to put a proposal together or to have a conversation with me, it’s about brevity. Keep it short, be super clear on the value that you expect to deliver, and we can go from there.
Do you find that most CEOs want brevity and super clarity to the point in the conveyance of value quickly?
Every C-level person I know is strapped for time. We want brevity. I have yet to meet a CEO who’s got enough time to hang around. If that person exists, then I’d love to meet them and know their secrets.
That’s fun. I like that. For those of you who want to sell to the CEOs, I have found the same thing. You’ve got to come in and know what we’re talking about and how to relate to that CEO as a CEO running that company in that industry. If I say anything, Aziz, that you disagree with, please speak up.
I completely agree.
We want to be prepared. Come in, be brief, and get right to the point. The old adage about talking about the fish on the wall is not important. What’s important is what’s going to help this person from a business ROI and a personal ROI. Firstly, I love the fact that you brought up, “I have a problem and I may know that,” or, “I may not have a problem, but I’m going to get one and I’m not aware of that.” Do you prefer one over the other, or are they both equal in terms of value?
I’d prefer the second. The second one could be that I’m going to have a problem in the future or that I have a problem but I’m not aware of the fact that I have a problem. In either of those two scenarios, I’m learning something. You are bringing new knowledge to me. That’s a lifeblood in decision-making at all levels. New data and new information are the lifeblood. If you are bringing me solutions to a problem that A) I don’t know that I have, or B) I’m about to have in the future, that is significantly more preferable. If I’m in the former, I have a problem and I need a solution, most likely, I’m in the market and I’m actively looking. It’s a different proposition. I never knew that I needed AI until AI came along.
It’s interesting. You’re bringing that subject up. I was reading about Gemini, which is the new Google form of AI coming in. It’s pretty amazing. I reached out to a couple of CEOs of companies and I said, “How’s this impacting you? This is how I see it going to impact you.” One of them is a pretty sizable software development company.
This gentleman’s in Europe, and he responded back to me one morning when I woke up. I was looking, and he is like, “This is changing our business around. What are your thoughts?” We’re having that conversation. It’s not a problem for them now, but it’s going to be a problem that they have to embrace within the next six months based on what I’m reading.
That’s a small example of what we’re talking about, staying ahead of what’s happening in their industry. I loved how you said this, Aziz. You’re being brought future knowledge, which allows you to make decisions earlier. I’m going to say that probably creates maybe some stress but also alleviates some stress now that you know what might be happening. Is that an accurate statement from a CEO standpoint?
Yes. We probably both are the same. We live 6 months to 12 months into the future. Whatever we’re dealing with now is solving the future problems. The day-to-day operations of any business typically are managed by mid-level and beyond, or at least you would hope so. I’ll give you an example of that. As an agency, we’ve been ahead on AI since even the early days of large language vulnerabilities, which was a couple of years ago now.
We were using a product called Right Summit. It’s obvious how impactful it’s going to be on the marketing industry. You don’t need a PhD to realize the impact. When ChatGPT-4 came out, the impact was so obvious to us that it would be completely and utterly detrimental to at least 60% of the businesses in our industry.
I was sat thinking one time, “What can we be that AI cannot be?” If you were to send me an email now and it was written by AI, I could tell. Even if you train the language model in how you write, I can still tell. There’s a feeling to the words. Even though they’re there on an email, there’s a sense to it. As I was thinking that, I was thinking, “AI can be more intelligent than humans. It can be more accurate than humans. It can potentially be more engaging than humans, but it can’t be human.” In the end, marketing is selling, and selling is a human activity. Immediately, my mindset started to move toward, “How can I train my organization to be more human, to be more creative in the human endeavor of marketing?”
As the thought was coming to me over the days, a company reached out for creative thinking and innovation training, and I thought, “It’s perfect timing. That’s exactly what we need right now.” We, as a company, have completely embraced AI, and we’ll continue to because operationally, it makes sense to do that. Why hire 20 copywriters when you can hire 5 copywriters and have AI do the checking? It economically makes sense. However, in the end, there’s still a human element there.
By the way, the LinkedIn message that the company sent to me was, “Your industry’s about to undergo an astronomical change because of AI. We think that the thing that agencies should be focusing on is human creativity and innovation. We have these sets of training courses. Would you like to talk?” “Yes, I would to talk.” That’s exactly the right message at exactly the right time.
That person reaching out to me had his finger on the pulse in terms of the market. He knew what was happening in our industry. He knew the future trends. By the way, this organization is training everything on their development to accounting to everything else. He packaged up exactly the thing that we needed at that time and sent it over to me. That started the conversation and we became a client.
That’s interesting because the point is that the timing was relatively perfect, but he was a little ahead of where you were going in terms of thought. For whatever reason he happened to reach out at that time, but you were coming to that conclusion. He had already been there, so he probably had reached out to lots of companies saying the same thing. It happened to be relevant and meaningful to you at that time. Here’s the question. If he reached out four months before that point, would he have the same impact or a different one?
He’d have made me start thinking about the issue. At that time, four months previous, ChatGPT 3.5 was out, and there were obvious issues with it. I would’ve started thinking about that. I can answer that question in a different way because we’ve had a lot of conversations since, and you’re quite right. He reached out to hundreds, if not thousands, of founders of agencies. He had a small response rate.
Even when he got to the pitch stage, for most agencies, they had their blinkers on. They didn’t believe or don’t believe what is coming around the corner. In our industry, there is an element of success by inertia. Once you’ve hired a marketing agency, more often than not, you don’t fire them unless they’re particularly bad. Organizations tend to continue. The status quo seems to work. We continue down that path.
That’s generally true, but there’s a lifespan to that. There’s a couple of year lifespan to inertia, and then, there’s another downturn. Everyone’s looking at their P&Ls and budgets. The first thing to go when you’re doing that is your agency. I was quite heartened by the conversation that I had with him around other agencies because A) I felt we were on the edge of this. We aren’t far behind. We’re ahead of most agencies. B) With my capitalist hat on, there’ll be a lot of agencies coming into financial difficulty in the next several months. That opens up so many opportunities for us.
M&A, Mergers and Acquisitions. We’re speaking with Mr. Aziz Musa. You can find him at Cush.Digital. That is the company. They’re a digital marketing company. We’re speaking about how CEOs like to be sold to or how they buy. You’re bringing up some invaluable points for people Aziz, because one of the things you said is, in these downtimes, a lot of times, people look at cutting marketing. I find the two things that companies cut, which is insane, are marketing and sales.
It’s like, “Let me get this straight. We’re in a tougher time now, so let’s cut off the whole front end of the engine that’s driving our revenue in our company. And we’re going to do better how?” I always advise companies to do the exact opposite. During these downtimes, as you said during a financial crisis, now’s the time to push the pedal to the floor in the vehicle and double or triple up on your marketing and sales and see it through.
Any company that’s ever taken that advice from me always ended up toward or on the top of their industry. While everybody else is pulling back, they’re gaining market share. They may not gain it in the first three months, but they gain it over a period of time. When things cycle back, because every economy always cycles back, and then people are flowing with money again, guess who they’re going to? The people who were there through the whole downturn. Do you agree or disagree with that statement?
To a large extent, I agree. It reminds me of a Bill Gates quote and he was being asked in the mid-90s, “How is it that Microsoft has dominated this industry for so long?” The short version of his answer was, “When the downturns came, we made sure that we survived and kept growing, whatever that growth was, 0.5% growth, 0.25% growth, and allowed the rest of the market to die off behind us.” I believe that because Microsoft products certainly aren’t the best user-experience products out there. That’s a large part of it. Possibly the area that we may differ on is that downturns are an opportunity to cut spending, just not in marketing and sales.
What I’ve experienced, particularly at the last company where I was the CEO and we went through an economic downturn, my focus was on cutting costs. What I found through the process was so much fat in the organization. When you start asking important and basic questions like, “Why do we use this outsourced call center when there are other options with higher ratings at a lower price? Why do we have this department for QC, which is twice the department of operations? Doesn’t that mean that we have issues with quality and we should resolve the underlying issues?” It allows you a perspective to look at an organization and find the fat. You are quite right. Any organization that has taken your advice, I’m quite sure, comes out of those downturns on top.
What I’m also quite sure of is that during those downturns, they find the fat and the inefficiencies in their organization, and they streamline everything to be pointed toward the sale, to be pointed toward that end customer. They pop out of the downturn like a primed lion, a lion who’s not eaten for months and can go for the kill. That’s the opportunity that most people miss when a downturn happens.
It’s strange to juxtapose those two words, downturn and opportunity but downturns are the opportunity. I don’t know how we’ve gotten it in our mindset that downturns are huge organizational issues. They don’t have to be. That is a choice. It is dependent on your industry. It is dependent on the organization that you are running. For the most part, companies pop out of a downturn stronger if they use that downturn to drive efficiencies and laser-focus their organization on sales.
That is so well said. I’m so grateful you said that the way you have because it’s analogous to how people are supposed to run their good financial responsibilities in their personal lives as well. How many of us can relate to going through our records and going, “I’ve got these monthly recurring services that I’ve been paying for several months and I haven’t used it,” or something like that? You’re talking about trimming off everything and then pointing everything to the mission of growth within the organization.
Pay attention, people. This was worth your price of admission alone. I can tell you from that. Thanks, Aziz. I appreciate that. Let’s say that people want to get to you as a CEO of the company but there are a lot of other people they have to go through to get to you sometimes unless they’re influencers. People who are within the chain are protecting your position as CEO. Not everybody can get to you. How do they sell to everyone else in the organization but still get to the buyer? In other words, what is probably the better path to take with people who are going to influence you as a CEO?
That’s an important point, but would you mind if I reframe that slightly?
I am not a fan of the framing of the gatekeepers or the buying unit that protects the CEO, only because anybody could be gone now. If I didn’t know you already, Doug, and I wanted to find your email address and get to you directly, I could do that. There’s no barrier anymore. That framing of the gatekeeper and the secretary who you’ve got to schmooze to get to the CEO is not necessarily accurate anymore. However, what is accurate is that you cannot convince me and assume that you have completed that sale because ultimately, the user unit, the people who are going to be engaging with your product or your service, ultimately, are, to some extent, more important than me.
Oftentimes, people will come to me from within the team and say, “We’ve come across this product.” In fact, there’s a good example of that happening, which is a data cleaning solution. They came to me and said, “If we do this, then we will reduce our bounce rates by this and we should get this return over the next six months.” I came to find out that the team themselves were being specifically targeted by this organization as opposed to targeting me.
I’m easy to find in terms of my contact details but they deliberately chose not to target me in order to bring that bottom-up approach. It worked. I don’t want to say that the old concept of the buying unit is dead because it’s not. The buying unit exists, but in the industries that I work in, which are the digital marketing or the digital technology spaces, that buying unit is much more fluid.
The influences can come from multiple directions. There isn’t this fixed concept of you having the CFO and then the CEO. Even back at Blackbird PLC, which was a Public Legalistic Company, the good ideas don’t always come from middle management or from the top. Oftentimes, they’ll come right from the entry-level team and they’ll automatically find their way up.
I will add to this though. I have come across this a lot and I don’t know if it’s a personal frustration. Maybe you can share your experience with this. I get frustrated when somebody goes through that process to get to me. They’ve made it a challenge for themselves because I’m not difficult to get to and then try to befriend me.
It’s almost cliché. I don’t mind. It’s nice. It’s polite to be polite. Be nice. Be likable. There’s nothing wrong with that but I find it a bit creepy when someone asks me how Liverpool Football Club is doing and talks to me about the last game and how we won 4-3. I don’t like that experience. If you are going to sell me something or if you have a solution to a problem that I have or may have, let’s get to that.
The whole bit where you are trying to prove that you’ve done your research on me as a person isn’t relevant to me. I find that not only irrelevant, a bit creepy, and a bit like, “Why are you wasting your time doing that? Why didn’t you put together a prospective P&L or the impact on my churn for the next six months or something like that, as opposed to working out what cake my wife likes?”
There are two things there. The first thing is when we’re going from a bottom-up cell, it’s not a bad thing as long as it’s done appropriately. The second thing is to start at the top anyways and don’t be creepy.
Be genuine. Be a real person. Nothing more, nothing less. Be who you are. Likability is important. It’s nice. Everyone likes people who are likable. That’s a cool thing. However, I have bought from many disagreeable people in the past who have got fantastic products.
Without question. I have done the same. It’s rapport, likability, and trust expertise. Out of the three, likability is the least important but trust is super important. It’s not a bad thing to know the background of who you are, who I am or whoever someone we want to engage with in a business relationship. It’s just too many people make it the primary. I agree with you 100% on this one. I’ve seen people come in and they spend the first ten minutes talking about this personal process with the CEO of the company. I remember one in particular. She was like, “Can we just get to the point?”
I’m not surprised. I’m that person too. I want to flip that around as well because you’re quite right. Doing research on the things that are important is valuable. If I were to give you an example of that, again, at a previous company, we were hiring a user experience agency for a new app that we were going to launch. We wanted to go ahead and do the research to understand the value proposition essentially. The team had put together a shortlist and had gone through the shortlist and said, “Okay,” There were four agencies that we were going to be interviewing. The number one agency, by far, wasn’t the largest in the market. They were probably mid-size in the market. They’d done some incredible work, including some work with our competitors.
They were credible on paper. The fourth agency, those who are least likely, were also credible. There was no issue there. They didn’t have the breadth and depth of experience. Our due diligence had shown that there were some potential financial issues coming up, which would risk it. It was a nine-month project. That fourth agency won, and they won by a landslide. Let me explain what the first agency did. This concept of user experience is something that I’m passionate about. The world is filled with junk products and junk systems that aren’t designed to be user-friendly in any way, shape, or form. This is something that I’m vocal about.
If you do any form of research, you will find videos of me saying exactly that. Find the beauty in the product, and sell the beauty. That is a mantra that I’ve had for myself for decades. You don’t have to work hard to find me to say that. The first agency had come in and they’d essentially pitched an off-the-shelf solution, which we could customize for ourselves.
It was horrific. It was an awful answer because all I wanted an agency to do was to come in and say, we need to do this research. We don’t know the answers, but here’s how we’ll find the answer and the beauty in the experience. That’s all I wanted. The last agency, which was on paper the weakest, came in and most of the pictures were 45 minutes to an hour. They spent three hours with us, which normally would annoy me, but I was completely engrossed in their approach.
They didn’t use slides. They didn’t use a presentation. They went through exactly what they would do. They created the experience, the environment of how they would understand user preferences in the form of games and exercises. At the end of the process, they said, “What you’ve experienced is what we’ll do over the next three months to gather our data. What we’ll do is find our way to the beauty.” They use that term specifically, the beauty in the product. That resonated with me because that’s what I care about. You can do the research in an appropriate way and use it to your advantage.
Firstly, kudos to them because they did the research. They hit the personal ROI, which is one of the buttons that you’re looking for, but they also didn’t sanitize the language. They used exactly what you said. I find in marketing and selling people, so many times, they have buyers. They want to be sold to the way they are being sold. What they don’t realize is the other person doesn’t know the script that they’re trying to work off of.
Use the language of your buyer, and they’re going to resonate with that. What’s the sweetest sound of someone’s brain? It’s their own name. I purposely asked you in the beginning, “How are we going to say your last name? Do you say it this way?” You said, “That is perfect.” I’m sure people have had many pronunciations of your last name.
Even my last name’s not hard Brown but people are like, “Is that with an E?” It’s like, “No.” This has been cool. I have one other question. I feel you’re the guy who can answer this probably better than most people based on our conversation. When you go into the organization, how do you know who the real buyer is? How do you recognize that? Are there signs? Sometimes there are multiple buyers, but for the most part, we have influencers, we have buyers. I’d like to get your feedback on what your thoughts are and how we recognize who the real buyer is.
This is such an important question that whilst I find it relatively easy to be able to pick out the buyer, I have struggled to train other people to do the same thing. Again, let me explain that a little bit better. I spent a lot of my career studying psychology, human psychology, behavioral psychology, and understanding body language. I’m not suggesting that anyone goes and does this. I’m a bit of a geek on things like that. I spent a lot of time studying it. Throughout that process, I was young when I started that, maybe 15 or 16.
I developed the ability to spot NVC, NonVerbal Communication innately without consciously thinking about it. Typically, in a room, I’ll hear something and or I’ll see a look, a glance between people and that will give me a sense of the barrier. One of the things that is quite common is I’ll hear, “I can’t make that decision,” or, “I don’t think I can do that.” I’ve put the accentuation on I in the wrong place. What they’ll say is, “I can’t do that.” Immediately in my mind, I’m like, “If you can’t do that, who can?” I started to work beyond that. Particularly in a group setting, I’ll be sat there and there are small glances that you can tell and water cooler conversations that you can hear.
You can find things out. I found that my ability to be innate. Now, I have tried my hardest to train people to be able to spot those NVCs and ask the questions that follow up. In the example, “I can’t do that,” someone says, “I can’t do that.” Now, I wouldn’t directly say, “If you can’t do that, who can?” because that’s aggressive. I might say something like, “Do you feel like there’s anyone else who could explore this further with me?” The name normally pops out. If that name isn’t there, then I’ve got an issue.
All the effort has to be the front end making sure that the decision maker, that real buyer, is in the room. You want to make sure that guy is there in the room, in the front end. Sometimes you’re going through a process and that comes a little bit later on. Now, there are occasions where I’ve understood who the buyer is but misunderstood the level of influence of somebody else. There can be a buyer and then a proxy buyer. That can happen. That’s why it’s so important that whenever I’m getting people to sell to the room, make sure that you’re answering the buyer’s questions, but sell to the whole room.
This happened when we were going for a large account, in the meat industry of all things. There were fifteen people around the table as I was doing the pitch. The CEO, the chairman, and all these people, including some mid-level marketers, and a social media manager were there, and I misread. For me, it was pretty clear that the marketing director was going to be the ultimate buyer. The CEO and the chairman were going to take the advice of the marketing director.
What I hadn’t noticed is that the marketing director took an awful lot of her understanding of digital from this social media manager. She knew a lot about marketing in the physical world, but not so much the digital world. I’d misread that. I hadn’t given that person enough of my attention and enough of focus. I was able to rectify it at the second meeting but it was a thing. Even when you find the buyer sometimes, you’ve got to make sure that there isn’t someone who’s a proxy buyer as well. It’s a challenge. If you figure out, Doug, how to train people on that, I’d love to know. Have you ever managed that?
I can do that. If you didn’t write this down, folks, write it down because this was brilliant. Sell to the whole room because if you sell the whole room, you’ve got a better chance of not missing that proxy buyer than if you just focus. By the way, it doesn’t matter 100% if it’s B2B or B2C.
I remember when big TVs came out here in the United States. I wanted to watch a sports game. I wanted to invite my guy friends over. Those of you who are going to send me hate mail, it’s not that women weren’t invited. They could come too. This was just a guy thing. I wanted the biggest screen TV I could have when my friends came over because it was just my ego being fed, and I wanted a bigger TV. This was my reason for getting that TV. I said to my spouse at the time, “Let’s go to this store, Best Buy, in the United States, and I want to get this TV.”
At that time, it was an 82-inch or something. That was a huge TV back then. They weren’t cheap. They were $4,000 or $5,000 but I wanted this. I was so primed and ready. The Super Bowl was coming up and I was like, “I’m going to have all the friends over. We’ll have a good time.” I go down there and I’m talking to the gentleman that was there and I said, “Show me your TVs.” He showed me and I go, “I love this one.” He kept asking me questions. My wife was standing next to me and he kept directing all the questions to me. I kept moving my head to see if he’d get the point. I feel her going, “I’m being excluded.” Long story short, she said in the middle of the conversation, “I’m here, too.”
She highlighted it there. Please tell me that he turned his attention to her.
For one question, he turned and said, “I apologize.” He asked her one question and then, the next four questions, he turned right back to me. That sale was done. By the way, I never got that television. I didn’t get it because I knew. This is why I tell people all the time to look at the personal return on investment as well as the business return on investment.
In a buying situation where you have multiple people in the room, you better play that game. As you said, sell to everyone the room. I never bought that television not because I didn’t want it, but because I knew that the personal return on investment was going to be more painful to have that hanging on the wall than it would be to have my friends coming over.
He killed the sale not just for himself. He killed the sale for you too.
I still tell this story because I’m still not happy about it. I never got what I wanted. Again, that is a small demonstration of what you’re saying. Sell to everyone in the room. All it took on in his case was a couple of acknowledging statements and asking, “What do you think of this?” It would’ve been a done deal. That credit card was burning in my pocket to jump out.
Your point is so spot on. I’m so grateful you’re bringing this up because so many people selling to CEOs don’t realize that there are people who are proxy buyers and they can knock that sale out. After we leave the room, what’s the discussion that happens? The doors get shut again. You’re going to ask, “Hey everyone, what did you think? This is what I thought.” Let’s say the human resources person’s going to go, “Boss, do you know how this is going to impact us on X, Y, and Z?” Those discussions start happening behind closed doors because of those reasons, and the sales are gone at that point.
You’re right 100%. I’ve had that conversation so many times where people have come in and pitched. Somebody I didn’t notice at the time, someone will have had an issue and the team that’s come in to pitch haven’t addressed the issues that are in the room. They’ve left them on the table. They haven’t addressed them, not because they didn’t want to address them, but because they didn’t give enough eye time to notice that there were issues around the table. I didn’t notice either. I’m focusing on the presentation.
They’ve lost that sale because of a lack of awareness of what was going on around the table. I try and make sure that I don’t do that. It still happens on occasion. You can’t read minds. Sometimes people have other agendas that happen. That’s true. Some people want something else, and that’s okay. You can live with that. If you don’t spot a prospective issue around the table because you didn’t give everyone enough eye time, then that’s on you.
I’m in 100% agreement. Aziz, I appreciate you being here on the show and bringing your A-game. I’m so grateful. Everybody, I’m sure, is grateful to read this. Thank you again for being here. How do people learn more about you and the company? Let’s say they’re going, “I need a digital marketing firm at this point.” How do they get more information?
You can visit us on Cush.Digital, and we’re all over social media or any other channels. If you want to talk to me personally, LinkedIn is my number one channel. You can reach out to me anytime on LinkedIn.
Thanks so much again. I appreciate it and thanks for keeping me from sweating so much on this interview because you did all the heavy lifting. I appreciate that. If you hadn’t noticed, I’ve drank of a lot of water through this conversation, so I appreciate that. Those of you who ever get food poisoning, please drink water. It helps immensely. Thanks again for being here.
Cheers, Doug, thank you. Thanks for battling through it.
Number one, when you’re selling to CEOs, you can err on the side of keeping brevity in the conversation. In other words, make it short. Get to the point. You don’t have to be doing the old long-tail copy for CEOs when you’re selling to them. Quite frankly, they’re too busy most of the time to want to be having those conversations as well. The only time they want to have long conversations is if that conversation is moving them to points over and over again where they’re thinking, “I want to hear more of this,” versus, “So what?” You want to ask questions that make them go, “I didn’t know that. I can see how that will impact me.”
I loved what Aziz was saying. He either has a problem and he wants to solve it, but usually, the better person coming through the office door, seeing him, where it lights him up, and I’ve heard this from other CEOs, is that, “What are the future problems that I don’t even know? What are the things that are happening now that maybe I’m unaware of that are going to come and catch my attention? I don’t want to be behind. I want to be ahead of that.”
Some people will call this innovation in some regard. CEOs don’t only just buy problems. They buy opportunities as well. If you can be that person who creates that opportunity, which is going to head off that problem coming down the line, give them that competitive advantage, help them, and prevent them from stumbling. They’re willing to listen to those things as well.
I hope you got a lot out of this episode. If you love this episode, please do me a favor and go up and review this show. If you feel it’s great to the point where you want to give it a five star, which I hope you do, do that for me. It takes a few minutes to do that, but I’d be forever grateful. If you are interested in attending our 1% Academy, which is where we’re teaching you how to think and act like a 1% earner or you’re interested in having someone look at your company, please reach out to us directly at YouMatter@CEOSalesStrategies.com.
For those of you who would like to do a self-audit on your company, “How’s my marketing going? How’s my sales going?” you can do that at www.CEOSalesStrategies.com/checklist. That will bring up a self-assessment for you, an audit that you can do on your own company. You can see, “Where are my sales in marketing efforts landing and where are they not?” It will help you adjust. If you want a copy of the eBook that was written, The Art and Science of Being a Nonstop 1% Earner in Sales, go to www.CEOSalesStrategies.com/1PE.
Until next time, go out and sell something. Make it goal-based. Their goal, your goal. Everybody wins in that factor. If you can make it a triple win in that play that they win, you win, and someone else or other people win too. Always hold margins if you can. Why? If you discount down, you’ve got to make up not just one sale to make up for one selling drop in your sales efforts.
In other words, if you discount down by 20%, you don’t have to go make 20% up. There is a cost of sale every single time you’re selling something. It’s not a one-for-one ratio. It’s usually far more than that. You’ll find that if you discount down, what’s going to happen is you’re going to have to make numerous sales to break even. Until next time, go out and sell something, and to your success.
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