Selling Above and Below the Line: Convince the C-Suite. Win Over Management. Secure the Sale.

Selling Above and Below the Line: Convince the C-Suite. Win Over Management. Secure the Sale.

by William Miller


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Most salespeople work hard to become proficient in reaching the frontline managers in their markets. Cost, service, functionality—they know the value propositions that speak to their most visible customers. But while many of these managers hold the initial decision-making power that can lead to that first sale, even they report to a higher authority who evaluates the manager’s decisions from an entirely different perspective. A salesperson who wishes to achieve long-lasting success with a client will learn how to also appeal to top-level executives from an “above the line” perspective.In Selling Above and Below the Line, master sales trainer Skip Miller shows how to simultaneously sell to both the frontline manager as well as the executive who is more concerned with profit/loss indicators such as ROI, time saved, risk lowered, and productivity improved—a strategy used by Google, Apple, Cisco WebEx, and other powerhouses. Salespeople wishing to gain a clear advantage over the competition will learn how to:• Create energy by including executives early in the sales process• Ask the right questions and pinpoint big-picture financial needs• Keep “below the line” managers from feeling bypassed• Uncover value propositions that target each set of decision-makers• And moreToo often, sales that seem locked in will stall or go dark. Or customers who have been loyal to you suddenly back out of the relationship due to decisions made above the manager’s head. Oftentimes, this could have been avoided had the salesperson been intentional to sell both the technical and financial fit. In Selling Above and Below the Line, learn to effectively communicate both, leading to more successful and lucrative deals than ever before.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814434833
Publisher: AMACOM
Publication date: 02/11/2015
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 721,904
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

WILLIAM "SKIP" MILLER is president of M3 Learning, a leading sales development firm whose clients include Apple, Google, Cisco, Oracle, Teva, Tableau, UGG, and other top companies. He is the author of ProActive Selling, and ProActive Sales Management.

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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 suite?

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 a 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 about."

"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 perspectives.

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.

Table of Contents


Foreword ix

Author's Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xvii

1 You Are Selling More Than Just Features and Benefits 1

The Neuroscience of Selling: It's All About Us 2

The Deceptive Lure of Features and Benefits 3

Buyers Buy Outcomes 6

2 The Line That Splits the Two Parts of a Sale 11

Business Acumen: Knowing What Makes a Company Tick 12

Understand a Company's Network of Concerns 14

Target Two Outcomes for a Sales Process That Works 15

The Split: Selling Above and Below the Line 18

Uncover the Buyer's Multiple Personalities 20

Focus on Two Value Propositions 22

3 Selling Below the Line 23

The Rationale for Features and Benefits 24

Two Sales Processes, Two Results 28

WIIFM: The Five Ps 31

The BTL Buyer's Mantra: I Need It and I Like It 33

The Three Levels of a Purchase 34

Company Win and Personal Win 35

4 Know Your ATL Buyer 36

Change: We All Face It, and We All Fear It 37

The Fear Factor 39

Promote the Positive Motivators 41

Time Zones: Great Salespeople Are Time-Travelers 44

5 Understanding ATL Energy 49

Capturing the Energy of a Sale 49

Harness the Energy in ATL Events 54

Other ATL Oddities 58

Change Is King 60

6 Controlling the Inbound Sale 61

Inbound Qualifying Made Easy 62

Lead Scoring 62

Find the Need with the Three Levels of Why 63

Qualify and Disqualify 67

Getting Control, Starting with the Welcome 68

7 Controlling the Outbound Sale 73

Make Outbound Qualifying Work for You 73

Your Homework 75

Getting Past the Screen 77

Get to the Point—The One That's All About Them 78

The Prospect's Homework 79

Gives/Gets 80

8 Stage 1: Being ProActive 82

Prospecting to the ATL Level: Strategy and Tactics 82

Mastering the Art of the Short Email 85

How to Leave a Phone Message 89

Trumpeting 93

9 Basics Never Go Out of Style 95

Start the ATL Phone Call with a 30-Second Speech 95

The Art of Asking Questions 100

Paraphrasing and Summarizing Skills 104

Time-Traveling 105

Next Step 106

10 Sharpen Your Executive Business Acumen 108

Top Down and Bottom Up 108

Think Across the Entire Organization 111

ATL and BTL Solution Boxes 114

Talking About Trains 115

Become the Champion of Solution Box B 117

I-Date for Box B 118

11 Stage 2: Don't Forget The Split 120

It's Not a Race 123

The Quantified Problem 124

The Quantified Cause 129

The Quantified Solution 130

Printer Story: The Value of the Three Qs 130

12 Discussions with an ATL Executive 136

The ValueStar: Learning ATL Vocabulary 136

ROI: Selling Money 137

Making the Most of Time 140

Risk: The Million-Dollar Question 142

Leverage: Building Value Across Trains 146

Brand/Image: The Emotional Value 148

13 Creating and Controlling ATL Energy 150

The Golden Rule 152

The Salesperson's Energy 152

14 The "How" of Controlling the ATL Sale 161

ATL Energy: Finding Additional Trains 161

BTL Energy 170

15 Stage 3: Value vs. Value 175

Two Value Conditions 176

A Day in the Life 180

BTL and ATL "I Get It" to "I Get It" 183

Validation vs. Education 184

16 Balancing Between the Lines to Accelerate the Deal 188

Energy Sources 188

Moving the Chains ATL 191

Learn to Quantify Energy 192

Getting to Quantification with Impact Analysis 195

Solution Boxes and I-Dates 198

17 Stages 4 and 5: Getting a Decision 200

The Goal Is a Decision 200

The Power of Options 204

Getting a Decision—Now 205

18 How to Implement ATL/BTL Selling in Your Current Process 210

Map Your Stages 210

Visual Collaboration with the Customer 212

Next-Step Selling 214

19 Overall Strategizing for an Above the Line Sale 220

Managing Risk by Relying on Numbers 221

Know Your Options 223

Wine Ages Well. Problems Don't 226

Look at All the Options 226

Final Thoughts 227

Index 229

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