Selling to the C-suite can seem daunting but it’s really quite simple. For example, although CEOs are notoriously difficult to access, the reality is that once you get that meeting, CEOs are the easiest people to talk to. It’s in their (and my) nature to be of service and make things easier or better.
Before you get to the call, keep their persona in mind.
A CEO’s time is critical. Listen to their concerns and stay focused on what matters to them. In this day and age, no one really has time to sit around and BS about topics, so there really is a need to get to the point, in a meaningful way.
CMOs care about budget and how those dollars are going to impact their bottom line.
CSOs are interested in how you can help them do their job through better forms of enablement.
CROs fall a little into both categories. They are Interested in being able to sit at the board level and portray confidence about the strategies for sales enablement and optimization of size and skills of sales team.
A CFO is probably most interesting to target as they can be a very business-centric role coming from many different disciplines. They’re the gatekeeper of the financial statement and have to be able to speak the language of sales, marketing, IT and Ops while being a gatekeeper for the CEO.
Once you understand the concerns of your C-suite executive, you can proceed with their best interest in mind.
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to selling to the C-suite. As a CEO, I‘d like to clear those up:
1. CEOs are buyers. False.
Never go to a CEO thinking they are the best route for a buying decision. CEO’s aren’t the buyer. Go to them because you believe that you are bringing something of value and you want to start a relationship and build credibility within their organization.
2. You have to be a social equal to sell to the C-suite. Partially true.
If possible, you want to have someone of comparable level from your company there the first time you talk with a C-suite level. This speaks more to respect than status. Once that relationship is built and the credibility is there, the lower level titles are introduced, and you can move forward, knowing that you can always return to the C-level if needed. (Keeping in mind #1).
3. Laddering will help you reach the C-suite. Maybe.
Laddering, the method of starting with lower level titles and working your way up to the C-suite, may work out to the ultimate goal of reaching the C-level, but this is not as effective as networking. By using the laddering technique you’re making it harder on yourself than it has to be. People want to control access to their CEO more than anyone else in the company. As mentioned earlier, the CEO is not your buyer. The more respectful, tactical route is leveraging your network to create a natural introduction to the CEO.
Value and understanding speaks volumes when selling to the C-suite. At Televerde we emphasize trust in business because people buy from people they trust. Remember, it’s about their challenges, not your personal agenda. Understand their company and find areas where you can help. Ultimately, if you bring something to the table that can help the company, you will have their attention.
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Author: Jim Hooker
Jim establishes and guides Televerde’s strategic focus as a premier provider of integrated lead to revenue services. He started the company in 1995 with a mission to help clients solve complex problems through market intelligence and demand generation programs. Since then, the stellar results that consistently exceed their expectations have enabled our long-term relationships with leading B2B tech and non-tech companies. Jim strongly advocates that we provide clients with a second-to-none experience based on extreme customer service and the best return on investment attainable. The goal he sets for the Televerde team is clear: Set the bar on great performance and then continually drive to exceed it. Connect on LinkedIn.