How to Sell to The C-Suite

Rethink Your Selling Strategy for Success with the C-Suite

5 Things to Know When You Sell to the C-Suite

What’s the hardest thing about selling to the C-suite? Is it the intimidating environment? The pressure of such high stakes? The dollars and cents on the line? No, no, and no. The hardest thing is correctly shifting your mind-set.

When you approach an executive in a sales situation, it cannot be business as usual. You can’t fly through a rehearsed presentation stack, rattling off your features and benefits. Instead, take these five tactics with you into the (physical or virtual) boardroom.

5 Ways to Have a Successful Sales Meeting with an Executive

1.Don’t Talk About Your Product

Whatever level of decision-maker you’re dealing with, the most important word in selling today is “value.” More than anything, a value-driven strategy is about shifting your selling mind-set. People today are exhausted with pitches—senior decision-makers more so than anybody.

When you enter the room with an executive (in person, over the phone, or through video conferencing), don’t go in intending to talk up your product or service. Keep the conversation focused on big-picture outcomes and what that prospect is looking to achieve.

In this initial meeting, you might not even mention your product or service, and that’s OK. In fact, if you start with your potential customer’s wants and needs and work backward from there, continually steering the conversation to value-focused insight, it’s a far more effective way to land subsequent meetings…and a closed deal.

It seems counterintuitive, but the more you keep yourself and your business out of the conversation, the more relevant, trusted, and valuable your information becomes.

"If you start with your potential customer’s wants and needs and work backward from there, continually steering the conversation to value-focused insight, it’s a far more effective way to land subsequent meetings…and a closed deal."

2. Bring New Ideas and Insight to the C-Suite

When you land a meeting with an executive, stay focused on what that prospect wants: new ideas and valuable industry insight. Anyone can go onto your company website and learn about your product or service. Don’t waste the valuable (limited) time you have with the C-suite by telling them things they could learn on their own.

Keep the conversation focused on large-scale, big-picture outcomes. Use your expertise and experience to illuminate what you’re seeing in their market and the challenges you’ve noticed. Offer them new ideas and valuable information that uncover potentially unconsidered needs and areas where their business can change and grow.

Get them thinking differently. Connect the dots to how that leads to an improved bottom line. This is a conversation any executive would be happy to have.

Especially with the pandemic, businesses are looking for ways to pivot and to innovate. If you can help guide them through those challenges, showing them why they need to change and how to do it, you’ve established value and trust. From there, it’s a much easier jump to convincing them your product or service can solve those problems you’ve highlighted and reach those outcomes you’ve outlined.

"Think through high-level factors, such as industry and company, but get more granular as well (job title within the C-suite."

3. Get to the Point…Quickly

Knowing your prospect is selling 101. With that in mind, if you’ve earned a meeting with a member of the executive board, get to your point in the most efficient way possible. Senior decision-makers don’t have time for anything extraneous, so your messaging has to be incredibly tight and specific to the prospect.

Understand the way your prospective client thinks, and tailor your content accordingly. Think through high-level factors, such as industry and company, but get more granular as well (job title within the C-suite and even down to relevant professional details about the individual).

4. Position Yourself as a Strategic Partner

When you engage with senior leadership and you manage to provide genuine value and insight, you accomplish something most other salespeople don’t. You elevate yourself from a provider of a product or a service to an asset. You position yourself as a strategic partner who’s extremely informed, knowledgeable, and valuable to that executive’s business.

Landing a one-off sale is good, but what’s even better is creating opportunities through a lasting business partnership. Approaching the C-suite with the right mentality can open doors you didn’t anticipate, and it can help you maximize the potential from that account. (For more information on enhancing your account strategy, follow the link to our free, on-demand webinar.)

5. Do Your Homework

Doing the legwork and being prepared is important in any selling scenario, but it’s absolutely critical when you’re in front of an executive. Asking too many discovery questions can actually decrease your win rate, so you have to come in with answers to those questions already. Being extremely well informed means knowing their industry, challenges, and goals. If you don’t, what should be a free-flowing conversation that focuses on the prospect’s needs and challenges becomes a taxing interrogation.

Navigate to the C-Suite

In any selling scenario, you probably will not start at the executive level. It’s rare to jump immediately to the senior decision-maker. Instead, you’ll need to navigate through a series of stakeholders before reaching that final step.

If this is the case in your sales experience, these five tactics still apply at every level. You still want to lead with value, not product. You still want to tailor your messaging and your story to that job title and individual. You still want to be well informed, knowledgeable, and insightful. If your approach is value driven, you increase your odds of escalating your proposal higher and higher up the business hierarchy.

Getting this approach right can offer impactful results for any business, and it will position you and your company as the ones to provide those results. Have questions about this process? Want to learn more about increasing your win rate through better selling? Reach out today. We’re always happy to share what we know!

Want to learn more about navigating sales within the C-suite specifically? Sign up for our upcoming webinar, Why You Can’t Sell to the C-Suite. The virtual event will be May 20, 2021, at 1:00 p.m. If you can’t make it on that day and time, all registrants earn access to a free event recording. We hope to see you there!

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