A Seat at the Table
IN THIS SUMMARY
The word salesperson can have ugly connotations; it often reminds customers of disengaged product-pushers who sell without passion or purpose. If a salesperson can transcend that image, however, and help his customers achieve their strategic goals, customers will begin to view him as difference maker, a champion “who deliver[s] value far surpassing that of any single product or service.” According to author Marc Miller, “The only thing your customer cares about is value,” and in A Seat at the Table, he shows salespeople how to maximize their value to the customer by reinventing their image as businesspeople who sell. Miller emphasizes that today’s successful salesperson needs to focus on understanding, connecting, and adding value to the customer's strategy — to sell more by helping more. To give salespeople the foundation they need to conduct successful sales, A Seat at the Table provides a Master Strategic Plan Matrix for understanding corporate strategy as well as a blueprint for conducting the first two meetings with a potential customer. Miller's goal is to provide salespeople with the essential strategies, steps, and skills that will optimize their value to the customer. Modern-day corporate executives are not concerned with buying mature, core products and services; they are focused on developing an effective business strategy that will enhance the future of their organization. However, the skills to sell complex solutions to executives are very different from the skills of selling mature, core products and services to middle managers. The key to dealing with executives is therefore being able to connect to the customer's business strategy — to stop being a tactical product-pusher and start becoming strategically valuable. Salespeople can demonstrate their value to the organization’s strategic goals by 1.) helping executives connect to their strategies and 2.) helping them devise solutions to achieve their strategy and get better results. By understanding the organization’s core strategies and then linking products and services to these strategies, the salesperson effectively connects to the customer. This connection is what earns a salesperson “a seat at the customer's table,” as they are seen as a valuable organizational investment.