In the movie “The Untouchables” Sean Connery’s character, Jim Malone, is targeted for a hit by Al Capone. The hitman breaks into his house and threatens Malone, pulling out a revolver, says, “Isn’t that just like a (derogatory term for an Italian) . . . brings a knife to a gun fight.”

In case you were wondering, here is the scene I'm talking about.


My question to you?


“Are you sending your sales people on calls armed to have you-focused pitches rather than the customer-centered conversation required today?”


Before you answer, ask yourself these questions:


  • Do you have a specific executive in mind, or are you targeting a “CXO?”
  • Have the people responsible for creating messages and materials to be used by sales people with your targeted executive ever had a one-on-one conversation with someone at that level . . even once?
  • How do you plan to gain access to that targeted stakeholder when your competitors are also trying to influence them as well?
  • How well equipped are your sales people to match specific customer problems and relate your value in a compelling, contextual relevant way to a given executive?
  • How do you know that the problems you helping are, in fact, relevant to the executive level that you are seeking?

As part of our “outside-in” sales enablement research agenda, we are getting the point of view of your buyers about how they are engaged by sales organizations, and what they think is truly differentiating. Basically, the overwhelming majority of executive-level buyers tell us that how a vendor engages with them differentiates them a lot more than what their products and services are or do.


Buyers want to work with vendors who will work with them to solve problems and the suppliers that follow the product first mentality are destined for a life of constant negotiation with procurement organizations. So, when you look at all of the collateral, tools, engagement strategies, incentive plans, and training programs you create — at their core, are they more about your view and products; or are they about helping your sales people understand and solve the problems your customers are having?