Selling to high-level decision makers is challenging at the best of times. However, it can be easier if you understand a few business principles.
C-level decision makers are paid to improve their business results. Regardless of how the media portrays these executives, their primary concern is to improve their business. This includes increasing sales, market share, customer loyalty; reducing costs, errors, or employee turnover; improving productivity, employee engagement, customer service, etc.
How does your product, service or solution address one of these issues?
C-level decision makers deal with changing priorities. Improving customer engagement may be a top priority today but tomorrow that executive may be faced with cutting $250,000 in expenses. That means they sometimes go cold after expressing initial interest in your solution.
Do you have a strategy in place to keep your solution current?
C-level decision makers are extremely busy. The average executive arrives early in the morning and stays late into the evening. They get dozens of calls every day, receive too many emails, and attend too many meetings. This means that you need to maximize every minute you have when you connect with them. This applies to telephone conversations and face-to-face meetings.
Do you know EXACTLY what to say when you connect with these individuals?
C-level decision makers rely on others. Contrary to popular belief, these high-ranking big-wigs seldom make decisions on their own. They often defer to other people on their team and ask for feedback from peers and/or subordinates. This means you need to involve these people in your conversations and include them in the decision making process.
Do you have the ability to finesse this?
C-level decision makers do not like to make mistakes. A major mistake can affect an executives reputation in their company. This affects the decision-making process which means you need to uncover their risk factor during your conversations.
How will you reduce your prospects risk factor?
C-level decision makers have big egos. Most executives have a healthy ego which is one of the things that helped them achieve their status in the company. This means that you need to be very confident in your own abilities when selling to these individuals. Do not back down when you are challenged. In fact, doing so could cost you the business because C-level execs want to deal with people who believe in what they do.
Are you confident enough to deal directly with C-level executives?
C-level decision makers spend the bulk of their day in meetings.The next time you are in the office, watch an executive. Chances are you will see them dashing from meeting to meeting. Your prospects are in the same position. They are not sitting at their desk waiting for you to call them.
Are you persistent in your efforts to connect with these individuals?
C-level decision makers have at least 40 hours of work on their desk at any given time. Several executives I know have expressed these sentiment, “I will never get caught up” or “Just when I think I cant get busier, I do” or “I never call a sales person back because I already have too much on my plate”. You need to give these individuals an extremely good reason to meet with you or take your call.
Is your approach effective?
C-level decision makers receive upwards of 150 emails every day. Many sales people use email as their major form of correspondence and it can be ineffective because most C-level decision makers simply do not have time to respond to every email. A Managing Director once told me that he prefers telephone correspondence because he simply cant get to every email, even when he wants to.
Do you use a variety of strategies to connect with C-level decision makers?
C-level decision makers think big picture.Stop focusing on your product or your company and start looking at the big picture of your prospects business. Most C-level execs do not get bogged down in the little details of their business they pay others to take care of the details. I once met with the President of a $125 million company and made the mistake of asking her questions about front-line execution instead of top-level strategic issues.
Can you see and discuss the big picture?
Think about your responses to each question and adapt your approach accordingly.