Member Ittai Bareket Speaks: The CEO Should Be the Best Salesperson in the Company

The Challenge:

The case at hand was brought by the CEO of a company that had invested heavily to develop a new product. Though the company saw great potential in the product, no significant deals were being closed. The CEO wanted to know how to get through the roadblock.

If you were in this situation, what would you do?

If I were piloting your plane, I’d identify your top five sales prospects and personally try to sell them this new product. Without getting your hands dirty, you’ll never know what is hanging up your sales process – or if a sale is even possible.

I know how excited you are about this product, and I can understand the frustration that it isn’t flying off the shelves. Still, I would counsel dispassionate fact gathering so you can crystalize what isn’t working. It could be a product issue, a market readiness issue, a price issue, a timing issue – the point is, you as CEO don’t know what the hang up is. If I were you, I’d identify the top five sales prospects and approach them directly. If you can’t sell them this product, how could you expect anyone else in your company to do so? If none of them bite, there is probably a bigger issue at hand.

Recently, I had to kill a product that we had invested millions into. Why? After false starts with customers, I went to try to make the sale myself. I came away with the realization that in order for the product to truly bring value to the customer, we had to make a much larger investment. It simply wasn’t worth it and I pulled the plug. Likewise, I would use your expertise to assess whether your new product has compelling value to your customers. If not, you need to tack immediately.