You might be overly concerned with selling to the C-suite. Authority used to reside in fewer people. Now decisions are more and more made by consensus. The elevator from the ground floor passes through every floor on its way to the Executive Suite. And it’s likely your deal does, too.
The A, B, G and F Suites
There aren’t any A, B, or F suites, I know. But if there were they might look something like this:
The A Suite: The highest level of manager that has a real reason to care about what you sell isn’t always found in the C-suite. The A suite is full of the highest level of stakeholders that do care about what you sell.
You may want to skip this group and go right to the C-suite. But that’s probably a mistake. This group is probably more interested in what you sell. More still, the C-suite is probably looking for this group to make the decision as to what they need to buy before they’re even remotely interested. This group is also likely to have the greatest ability to influence the C-suite (if and when it’s necessary that you bring them in).
The B Suite: This level is the business owner. This is the group of stakeholders that owns the business outcome for your client company.
You might decide not to spend any time outside of the C-suite (or the A-suite). Even though this group may not be upper management, they have the most insight about how what you sell really needs to work for them. They’ll give you the ground truth about what could be improved. And they likely have a ton of influence with the A-suite.
The F Suite: Finance. Purchasing. Supply Chain Management. This is the suite where you find the economic buyers. Like it or not, your deal likely passes through this suite on its way from target to close.
You can try to avoid this group if you want to, but pretending that they aren’t going to be involved in your deal doesn’t make it true. Purchasing and Finance have grown in power over the last decade, and there isn’t any reason not to learn to sell effectively to this group—even if they are overly concerned about price.
The C-suite may or may not be involved in your deal. But there’s no doubt that a lot of lower-level stakeholders are going to be involved in your deal. And they’re going to be affected by whatever you sell. You build consensus by engaging with these groups, not by ignoring them. Stop at every floor on your way to the C-suite.
What is the title of the highest level of stakeholder that normally cares about what you sell?
Who are the stakeholders you work most closely with once you’ve been chosen?
Which stakeholders usually influence the decision to choose you?
How do you build consensus among all these groups and individuals?