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Talking to the C-Suite—From The Sales Blog Mail Bag

I receive a lot of email, but more and more I am getting direct requests to write about some issue or problem that a salesperson is struggling to overcome. I don’t often take requests, but when something strikes me as interesting enough to answer and might also benefit others, I try to get it on the editorial calendar.

This is from today’s email:

“Nowadays, I am facing a problem dealing with high profile professionals (CEO, GM, MD), as they very rarely provide time for a meeting. If they do provide time, it is not very much. What is the best script to use, or what things should we keep in mind when dealing with these executives on sales calls?”

The Best Script Ideas

I always worry about questions like these. It presupposes that there is some magic bullet that, once known, will help you develop the respect and trust of C-level executives; there isn’t.

The fact that there isn’t an easy answer to this question is the reason I so often write about business acumen. If you are going to call on and sell to C-level executives you have to possess a higher than average level of business acumen, and you have to be able to distinguish yourself as someone that they can trust to help them move their businesses into the future. You must be able to help them think and act strategically. This is no mean feat.

That said, there are some script ideas that will help you.

The first is to develop a great opening for your sales call. Make sure that you have an agenda that lays out exactly what you are going to do with the time you have been given, what you hope to accomplish, and how you intend for your agenda to benefit your C-level dream client executive.

You also need a list of questions that demonstrate that you know how to find the areas where value can be created. This is where the business acumen is required. There are no statements that you can make to a C-level executive that will do as much to create value and develop your relationship as will great questions.

Questions that are focused on creating value in the way of real, measurable business results are worth talking about. Questions about helping your dream client to acquire and serve their customers are worth talking about. Questions that determine areas where you can help to create a strategic advantage are worth your C-level executive’s time.

Don’t even think about pitching your products, your services, or your solutions. Until you are trusted as someone who can help them to move the business forward, your pitch is dead on arrival.

Keep In Mind

There are some important things to keep in mind when calling on C-level executives.

First, they have tremendous demands on their time, and they are necessarily very protective of that time. They invest the time in producing business results, and they avoid anything they can that doesn’t further those ends.

If you aren’t getting enough time with C-level executives after getting them to a meeting, it is because you aren’t making it worth their while to spend time with you (which takes us back to business acumen and the dialogue you engage in when you are with a C-level contact).

Second, they aren’t looking for your products, your services, or your solutions. They are looking for strategic partners who can help them to increase their revenue, increase their profits, or lower their costs. They are looking for business partners who are going to own some outcome that helps them to better acquire and serve their clients or that gives them a strategic advantage.

Lastly, there isn’t a shortcut to developing the confidence and the business acumen that this requires. But there are lots of things you can do to develop yourself and to make a study of this as you move forward.

Questions

What makes conversations valuable to the C-level executives you call on?

What do they expect from you during those sales calls?

What costs you your credibility and trust?

What do C-level executives expect you to be able to do for them?


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Comments

comments

  • Anonymous

    Fantastic post Anthony.

    I’ve always been taught to talk to CEOs and other higher-ups about the future. They’re in charge of seeing the organization prosper years down the line, so show them how you can do that. More importantly, get them to think about what happens if they make the wrong move, and how you can help prevent that from happening.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Vikas-Khichi/642636725 Vikas Khichi

    This is really helpfull, thanks for the same…Vikash

  • http://twitter.com/TMattCameron Matt Cameron

    I agree boradly with the post and would add that something to keep in mind is that the only reason a C-Level person will take a meeting with a stranger is that you know something that they don’t, and that ‘something’ is of value to them.  You need to communicate this fact in the request for meeting.  

    Never turn up to a meeting without already doing as much research as you can on:
    1) The individual
    2) The company
    3) The industry

    Then start with an insight that illustrates you can potentially create value for them and set some credibility – You then have earned the right to ask them questions to hone in on how best to offer value.  If you arrive in my office and start by asking me questions, then I will not have the time of day for you because I need to know that it is worth my time in answering them.