attention Just realized that six of my recent posts have been about getting attention in one way or another. Well, this time around it’s about getting the attention of CEOs, and the ideas are from a book called Selling to VITO (very important top officer) by Anthony Parinello. In a nutshell, it describes how to get an appointment with the CEO, and then how to get the CEO to accept you as a peer and strategic partner, so you bypass the usual buying process and intermediaries. A key element of the first part – getting in the door – is the crafting of a half-page hard copy letter featuring something called the Headline Statement. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Research what matters to the CEO, and how your product or service addresses (or how you, yourself, if you’re ‘selling’ your own services, address) a critical business problem. Also research the CEO’s Exec Assistant’s name.
  2. Assemble a 30-word Headline Statement that includes, among other things (a) tangible and intangible benefits your product offers, (b) quantitative measures of proven improvement from your product, (c) factual info from a source the CEO respects, and (d) a statement that establishes your credibility, e.g.:

Green Roof Inns increased its revenues by 9% and increased customer satisfaction during the past year since implementing XYZ’s guest communication services. (Signed testimonial from President of Green Roof)

  1. The rest of the letter includes a ‘tie-in’ (how this could work for the CEO you’re pitching to), 3-4 bullet point benefits, a deliverable promise, and a ‘P.S.’ that suggests a time and date for your follow-up call and asks that the CEO’s Exec Assistant (who you name) call you to arrange an alternate time if that time is inconvenient.
  2. Oh, and no logo, no label, on the 9″x12″ envelope (with a real stamp) you put the unfolded letter in.

Parinello stresses that this only works for CEOs (Middle-managers are motivated by, and interested in, different things from their suppliers). Since the objective of this is to establish you as a ‘trusted strategic partner’ of the CEO, not just a supplier, and describes striving for this partnership as akin to applying for a job, it seems logical to me that this process could also work when applying for a senior management position. Might be worth a try. I recommend the whole book, which tells you what to do in much more detail, and also tells you what to do next. It’s a bit self-aggrandizing and too-cute in places, but if you look past the style to the substance it makes a lot of sense.

It occurred to me that a Headline Statement is comparable in some ways to an Elevator Pitch. Different audience, different venue, but very similar objective: To get attention.

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