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Selling to the C-Suite: What Every Executive Wants You to Know About Successfully Selling to the Top Hardcover – September 8, 2009

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Selling to the C-Suite:  What Every Executive Wants You to Know About Successfully Selling to the Top + The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation + SPIN Selling
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071628916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071628914
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

CEOs Reveal the Secrets for Selling to the Top

“The business world is drowning in a flood of sales books. The trouble is that most of these books are about how to sell, without a clue about how customers buy. . . . This book is different. It is firmly rooted in how people buy and so it works.”
—NEIL RACKHAM, author of SPIN Selling

“Those new to executive sales will find a game plan they can use immediately. Veterans who regularly call on executives will use this book to sharpen their game.”
—CHIP BRUBAKER, Vice President-Americas Sales Readiness, CA, Inc.

“If you’ve always wondered how the other sales guy got to the CEO and you didn’t, start reading this book and earn serious commissions!”
—LINDSAY LYON, CEO, Mobilarm, and former GM Commercial Sales for Hewlett-Packard Australia

“Nic Read and Dr. Bistritz have done a masterful job summarizing how to approach and sell to executives. If you read this and apply its secrets, you’ll win more, more of the time.”
—MICHAEL GALLAGHER, President, The Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service

“Practical advice on how to get to the decision-makers in the context of sales . . . Having learned these lessons the hard way while transforming a Chinese state-owned enterprise into a globally competitive business, I wish this book had been available when I first started!”
—GEOFF WATSON, former Vice President, Alcoa China

"We hear a lot about being a Trusted Advisor, but what does that really mean? The authors clearly define that role with the insight, definition and actions required to establish and sustain credible value-based engagements with senior executives. If your success depends on being engaged early in your customer’s decision process and you’re in a market that demands value based differentiation then this is a must read."
—GARY SUMMY, Direct Sales Development, Trane Commercial Systems, and Directors of the Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA)

"Selling to the C-Suite uncovers what were once 'mysterious secrets' of effectively approaching and building long lasting relationships with relevant executives. It is a no-nonsense playbook for a win-win sales approach, credible, applicable and powerful.”
—RAFAELA REYES, Senior Training & Development Manager, Brother International

"As an educator on the college level teaching professional selling, I found this book to be invaluable if you are interested in learning how to sell to the top executives. Not only does it help you understand when to engage the executive, it also tells you how to get access. If that was not enough the book also focuses on how to create value and build credibility with the executives."
—DAN C. WEILBAKER, Ph.D., McKesson Pharmaceutical Group Professor of Sales, Northern Illinois University

"Steve and Nic provide a great history lesson that helps us understand why Marketing and Sales is different in the new millennium and provides the research background to prove their points. If you want to become effective at the C-Suite, this book--its references, models, and tools--[is] incredible."
—JIM GRAHAM, former Chief Learning Officer, R.R. Donnelley

"To not adopt these concepts puts you at risk to being left out in the lobby, while your competitor is in the client’s boardroom."
—MICHAEL BOLAND, coauthor of Get-Real Selling

"Too many salespeople have no idea if they're winning or losing, and it's usually because they're meeting the wrong people and asking the wrong questions too low down the food chain. As a result, their sales forecasts are no better than a lottery. This book pulls no punches in showing why sales and marketing fails to connect to executives, and what to do about it."
—GORDON CLUBB, Managing Director, SAS Institute Australia & New Zealand

"This is a very practical approach to calling on executives. The authors tell us why it is important and how to do it. Getting access to the executive level is one battle, but knowing what to talk to them about when you get there is another. . . . Every organization calling on Fortune 1000 companies needs this information."
—RENIE MCCLAY, former president of the Professional Society for Sales and Marketing Training (SMT)

“Great information on a critical topic for all salespeople. The sale to an executive is made during the questioning process, not in your product presentation. You can’t sell anything to an executive until you have first sold yourself.”
—DUANE SPARKS, author of Action Selling and Chairman of The Sales Board

About the Author

Nicholas A.C. Read is president of SalesLabs, which helps companies drive predictable and repeatable revenue growth through the application of improved process, measurement, and skills. In 2005, he was awarded Winner of the Best Sales Trainer category in the International Business Awards, an annual awards show that has been dubbed “the business world’s own Oscars” by the New York Post. He splits his time between North America, Asia, and Europe. For more information, go to
Stephen J. Bistritz, Ed.D., has more than four decades of high-technology sales, sales management, and training management experience dealing with companies ranging from start-ups to global leaders. He is currently president of his own sales training and consulting firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information, go to

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Customer Reviews

Simple down to earth advice, easy to read but do not whip through this book, it is too valuable a read.
Reg Nordman
If your personal goal is to be a highly successful B-to-B sales professional then this book is a 'must read' for you.
John Czabala
Selling to the C-Suite lays out when and how to access Executives, as well as how to establish credibility and value.
Bill Walden

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Christian Maurer on July 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In tough times, spending limits are always curtailed with the effect that more decisions are made or need approval by someone in the C-Suite. The age old recommendation of "calling high" is therefore of high actuality. Yet many sales people struggle to get access to the senior executives and even more so to hold meaningful conversations at this level. In today's economic environment this capability gap can become career threatening.

« Selling to the C-Suite » by Nicholas A.C. Read and Stephen J. Bistritz offers very practical advise how to close this gap. It is not one of those thousands of books flooding the business book market written in the style of "This is what I did, I was successful, there is no reason it should not work for you." Instead, "Selling to the C-Suite" is packed with research based concepts that have successfully been applied by thousands of practitioners. Instead of looking what people did who were successful to sell to the C-suite, the research focused on how senior executives want to buy.

With the concept of the relevant executive, the authors help salespeople to understand exactly what "calling high" means for a particular client. This relevant executive cannot be identified by just looking at an organization chart. The relevant executive is not only defined by his/her high rank but also by his/her high influence. The book gives good clues how to determine this influence.

The authors are also helping us to understand , based on their research, when senior executive are involved in a buying decision. It is not when they actually sign the contract.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Keith Morris on August 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I experienced a huge number of 'ahaa' type moments when I read this book.

I like many things about this work by Read and Bistritz, but one of the best things is that it is based on evidence and not just the sometimes unique, and often dated, sales experiences of individual Salespeople that you find in other books.

For example, tracking through the section on When Do Individuals Get Involved in the Decision Process?, based on my personal experience of large, long cycle service selling this is 100% spot on. I'm glad to see that the book doesn't offer some cheap trick as a solution to winning over C-Suite Executives, but rather focuses on the way that we can develop value, thereby making ourselves, as Salespeople, true 'Trusted Advisors'.

This is an excellent book that I would recommend to anyone who wants to rise above the pack, and who wants to go beyond the level of commodity selling.
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Format: Hardcover
My good friend, Greg Van Ess, introduced me to "Selling to the C-Suite" to get my take, as a CEO, on the research and suggested approach to selling to C-level executives outlined by authors Nicholas Read and Stephen Bistriz. I gave Greg an interim assessment when I was only about one-third into the book - "this book is `spot on' regarding selling into the C-suite" but, Greg, this book's audience extends far beyond the author's target audience."

I have now finished the book and will be more specific, "Selling to the C-Suite" is a invaluable guide for salespeople...and for ALL executives, managers, and professionals "selling" up, down, and across organizations, and for job-seekers trying to land a new position.

Extensive research, statistics, case studies and anecdotes (FranklinCovey) show TRUST is a driving force in today's global economy. Read and Bistriz reinforce and tailor this for those selling into the C-suite with their independent, groundbreaking research conducted over ten years with C-suite leaders from 500 diverse companies and government bodies. A successful C-level relationship - open to products, services or ideas - is built around trust.

"Selling to the C-Suite" is organized around key research questions poised by the authors (think broadly by substituting employee, manager, job seeker, etc for salespeople and you will see what I gleaned about application):
* When do executives get involved in the buying process for major decisions?
* How do salespeople gain access to executives?
* How can salespeople establish credibility with executives?
* How can salespeople create value at the executive level?
* Is executive buying behavior consistent across cultures?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Victor Antonio, Sales Influence on July 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Let me start out this book review by simply saying that if your job consists of selling to or establishing meaningful relationships with senior executives in large companies, then you NEED and MUST read this book. Not doing so is only cheating yourself and the company you represent.

Here's a quick scan of the answers you'll find in the book :

*When do executives get involved in the buying process for major decisions?
*How do salespeople gain access to executives?
*How can salespeople establish credibility with executives?
*How can salespeople create value at the executive level?

Bistritz and Read (Authors) have done a wonderful job in not only qualifying how to sell into the `c-suite', they move beyond the anecdotal and into the empirical by sharing with us the reader how they arrived at their conclusions. The book is based on actual interviews, over 500, done with senior executives.

I had several `holy bucket' moments as I read through the book. Here are just a few:

1) Knowing when and why a senior executive gets involved in the decision making process and also the reasoning behind it. We've all heard the cliche, "By the time most salespeople get involved in a sale, it's too late." This book explains why that's so and how you can avoid the `late to the party' effect.

2) Understanding what executives want from a salesperson and in what order (i.e., priority). This was quite insightful and quite surprising. Here's a tease: it's not product knowledge or knowledge about your competition that ranks high with executives.

3) What do salespeople have to do in the Internet Age to remain relevant to senior executives?
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