Selling Above and Below the Line

Convince the C-Suite. Win Over Management. Secure the Sale.

 Selling Above and Below the Line

Author: William "Skip" Miller
Pub Date: February 2015
Print Edition: $18.95
Print ISBN: 9780814434833
Page Count: 256
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814434840

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Author's Preface

"How could I have missed it?"

As a sales professional, have you ever spoken these words after a

phone call or a meeting with a prospect that hasn't gone well? The usual

next step is the customer telling you they are going with another solution

or going in another direction. Not good.

More salespeople and sales organizations are trying to increase their

average sales prices (ASP) and shorten their sales cycles. To do this, they

need to call on the executive suite more often. The question is: How have

you and your company prepared the sales organization to call on the executive


Sales typically uses PowerPoint slides and white papers that Marketing

has meticulously prepared and made everyone memorize. These expertly

executed materials are all about what we do, who we do it for, and

how we can do it for you, Mr. or Ms. Prospect. They work well for the

features and benefits buyers (aka User Buyers), but what about the Executive

Buyers? Do you really think they want to see the same story and

listen to the pitch you made to the User Buyer?

For the past twenty years, we have been training salespeople and sales

organizations to speak a different language when they call on the executive

suite. C-levels speak a different language than their User Buyer counterparts,

and it's amazing how unprepared a sales team can be to call on

executives. I would guess that salespeople, on average, converse in User

Buyer language in about 80 percent of sales calls they make to the executive

suite. When they do get to the C-level buyer, the sales team usually

asks the C-suite buyer "key" questions like:

"What would you like to know about us?"

"Here is an executive overview of what we have been talking to your subordinates


"What can we do so that you will approve and sign off on our deal?"

Then there are the 20 percent of sales calls that talk to the C-suite

about what they want to hear--how the proposed solution can benefit

one of their key goals or objectives.

"This can contribute to lowering your costs up to 20 percent."

"Timing is key to your new product launch, and this solution can help you

save three to four weeks of time."

"Our solution has the potential of lowering the risk of this project by 5 to

10 points."

What's the difference between the two conversations?


There are two different value propositions in most sales. The executive

suite has one idea of what they want and why they need to change what

they are doing today, and the User Buyer is looking for something else.

So what happens?

Salespeople go for the low-hanging fruit--the User Buyer value

proposition--since that is one they have been taught how to sell to and

have had success selling. And, quite frankly, they feel comfortable discussing

their favorite subject, themselves.

A far sounder approach is to sell both above and below the line--to

the User Buyer and to the executive suite. Early in the sales process, a

focus on both value propositions substantiates your proposal's value for

both levels of the organization, speeds up the sales cycle, and increases

your ASP.


Many families have a formal dinner every so often, perhaps on Sundays.

When the extended family members and a few friends gather, the kids

sit at one table and the adults at another. The kids' table has their own

"language," and the adult table has theirs.

The kids didn't want to sit at the adult table, where they soon get

bored with parent talk. Adults don't want to sit at the kids' table; they've

spent plenty of time with the kids all week and long for some adult conversation.

Above-the-line (ATL) executives and below-the-line (BTL) buyers

sit at different tables, talk about different things, and operate from different


The tools and tactics in this book will have you calling higher, getting

quicker responses, negotiating with more confidence, and speaking the

right language.

Calling high is not the trick. Anyone can do that. The trick is when

you're there, what do you say? How do you keep the executive's attention?

And how do you coordinate that conversation with the pitch you're delivering

below the line?

Welcome to Selling Above and Below the Line.

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