Selling to VITO

So, with the extended time off at Christmas, I usually get to do something I never seem to have enough time for the rest of the year. Catch up on some books I’ve always meant to get to.

As a sales training consultant, one of the books that I am almost embarrassed to admit that I had not read was a very famous sales book by Anthony Parinello, called “Selling To VITO”.  I had heard it referenced so many times but so many sales people, that I figured it must be pretty important and hold the keys to all things great in sales.

So over the break, while I was picking up other gifts, I saw it in a book store and grabbed it.  I had long wondered who this Italian guy VITO was, and why anyone would want to sell to him.

Anyway, I quickly discovered who VITO was within the first chapter heading. The Very Important Top Officer. This is really a How To on getting your foot in the door with the CEO, President, Boss, Top Dog, Big Cheese, etc. at any company and starting the sale using a top down rather than a bottom up approach.

Overall I found it a very easy read, with a number of useful ideas and concepts. Here are the key ones that I came away with;

  • VITO has the ultimate power to say yes and there biggest concern is a directly measurable return on investment from whatever you have to offer.
  • VITO pays attention to things that add value to him/her, so position yourself and your offering from a value added proposition. When you call on VITO you are really on a job interview proving that you have the best solution. Position yourself as a business ally committed to making things happen for VITO. Identify ways you can help VITO increase shareholder value through increased revenues, increased efficiencies and effectiveness, lowered operational expenses etc. Also look for ways to add value for VITO that don’t necessarily include you.
  • Five key qualities you will need to work with VITO: unshakable confidence, willingness to develop synergy, ability to build rapport, unlimited desire to succeed, and unlimited energy. Ten behaviors to avoid: small talk, overstating or understating anything, criticizing anyone’s efforts, sharing confidential information, assuming business rapport extends to personal rapport, being late, procrastination, speaking negatively of others, saying you know something you don’t, and asking for an unearned favor. Ten desired behaviors: making a good first impression by knowing something about VITO, exceeding expectations, making yourself an appreciated asset, your ability to become indispensable, apparent self-improvement, always have a positive attitude, dress for success, speak with an appropriate vocabulary, become a useful team player by being a giver, and listen intently.
  • VITO must perceive you as being of equal stature and as someone responsible for making things happen and delivering results. You must understand their problem and have a solution in the form of a benefit.
  • Do your research before contacting VITO by mail, find out as much about VITO’s company as possible.
  • Draft your VITO letter. Start out with a specific detailed benefit laden headline statement that focuses on measurable results. Keep your letter to one page. Develop an opening paragraph that follows the theme of your headline and ties into the benefits that you list. Develop a closing paragraph. Include a P.S. letting VITO know the exact time and date that you will call. Make sure your letter is industry specific and experience based.
  • Make the call. Your opening statement should encourage VITO to interrupt you and must sound conversational. The structure of your call should look like this: open by using Mr. VITO’s name, indicate your respect of the value of getting to speak with VITO, create a conversational bridge to link your opening to why VITO should give you the time of day, prepare a hook sentence similar in nature to the headline statement of your letter, introduce yourself, and end with a question that gets VITO to do the talking. Let VITO drive the conversation.
  • Get around the Gatekeeper by treating the gatekeeper with respect and developing a relationship.

So there you have it. The key points from Selling To VITO…certainly not meant to substitute for reading the whole book. A good read that won’t take you long and if you can actually implement even some of the ideas, no doubt they should work for you in some cases.

SalesForce Training & Consulting is a professional sales training firm based in Boston and Toronto, providing sales coaching, sales management training, salesforce.com implementation and sales training.

by   Mark Christie