Gone are the days when C-level executives typically used to join the conversations only to rubber-stamp for a final sign off. They now tend to jump into the buying process and be involved – through the entirety of the sales process.
C-level executives have the authority to sign-off on deals immediately, sales reps won’t likely be passed on to “my manager” and play round robin across an organization. Nor do they have to hear the all-too-common “this doesn’t fit in the budget” at the end of the conversations. If your offering resonates with a C-level executive, chances are that the budget will be found as well and the buying cycles will likely be drastically curtailed.
But, selling to C-level executives becomes a tough nut to crack as they may have more influence but time would never be a luxury. Here are a few tips to get through the iron-clad gates to the C-suite fortress.
If you get them on phone, try to assess their way of communication – are they in a hurry? Are they relaxed or may be at lunch?
It is important to match their pace else you might just end up with a telegraph as a sales rep that is just going to waste their time.
Connect with them by briefly talking something else before you pitch
For example, I called into some organization and the hold music was a rock song. When prospect picked the phone, I immediately complimented him for the same. I also asked him if it was his personal choice. He said “it came along with the system”. We briefly talked about the song and then I told him that I am going to begin my pitch.
It is one of the best rapport building techniques before we announce the name of the company or start with the pitch. Also keep in mind that you need to have a right personality to do this with. If you try this tact with a driver, it won’t work.
Make it brief and question
Telling your prospect that you’re going to make it brief gives you the best shot of giving your next couple of sentences.
Make it brief and then question to engage your prospect because ultimately the goal is to engage and not to talk at them.
Keep insights related to their business and industry
When engaging with the C-suite, you need to do research, understand the prospect’s business objectives, and become an expert in their businesses and industries. According to SiriusDecisions, executive, buyers appreciate when sales professionals know about this 4x more than traditional relationship tacts.
Let your prospect do the talking
After you’ve got your two sentences in, it’s time to let your “C” level executive do the talking. Hit your Mute button and DON’T interrupt. They are pretty used to talking and to having the people listen. They’ll give you a chance to speak when it’s your turn (usually).
You can’t go into a pitch straight and expect them to listen politely. They won’t.
But the above techniques, will at least help you set yourself apart from all your competition and probably you’ll have the best possibility of actually connecting with them and having a chance to get your value statement across.