Selling to C-level, or high-ranking executives in an organization is tricky. Officers of these positions are the most influential and powerful members of a company. Their workload is demanding, and they make high-stakes decisions. They not only possess the highest leadership skills and business expertise, but also the highest salaries. If you are going to pitch to a chief executive officer, chief financial officer and executive vice-presidents, then you need your A-game. Once you’ve succeeded in scheduling a meeting with them, what happens next?
What to Do for your C-Level Sales Meeting
Stay One Step Ahead
High-level executives are usually involved in two stages of the buying process — immediately after they identify a need or problem and when it’s time to authorize the final purchase. This is why you must engage with C-suite prospects early in the buying cycle. At this stage, the executives look to understand current issues in their business and layout a strategy of initiatives. After that, they cut back on involvement, delegating the details to other employees until it’s time to make a final decision. To get in there early, you must focus on the pertinent issues and your problem-solution messaging must provide insight.
Act like a Peer
Most salespeople go into important transactions like they are meeting a celebrity. They resort to ridiculous anecdotes or start compulsively spouting features. Instead of acting like a star-struck teen, top level salespeople become an advisor to his or her executive prospects. It all starts with your mindset. Know you are worthy of interacting with upper-level management and equal to the task. Discuss numbers like a financial expert, use the technical terms of the business and don’t back down when challenged. Only then will the CEO see you as a peer, not just a vendor and give you access to his or her inner circle.
Know What They Want Before They Do
By the time you meet with a CEO or Chief Executive Officer, you should know the company’s background, their needs and exactly what you bring to the table. Avoid traditional B2B questions like “What is keeping you up at night?” or “What would you change about your company?” CEOs are too busy to answer your rapid-fire questions or spoon-feed you information. You must maximize every minute with them. So do your pre-meeting research, find credible sources and be ready to discuss relevant issues.
It may feel silly to rehearse your presentation, but it will boost your confidence and prepare you for the task ahead. Record yourself or ask a friend to act the part of the CEO. Give them basic information and encourage them to voice their concerns during your presentation. This will convert your pitch into a give-and-take exchange. It also prepares you for questions that deviate from the script and trains you to get the conversation back on track.
Many salespeople trip up under pressure. You might fumble your words or start talking too much. When speaking with C-level clients you can not risk overselling. So, what do you do when an exec confronts you with a challenge and you start to stress? You take a deep breath, take time to mull over the problem, and whatever you do, remain calm. Confidence and self-esteem are characteristics a CEO will recognize and admire. Maintaining poise, even under the stress of a challenge, will gain their trust and eventually their business.
Usman Raza is the co-founder of a Christian Marketing LLC and marketing strategist working with various brands online. Usman is the content marketing manager at a Los Angeles based Amazon SEO Agency, PSD to WordPress Review, and an Event Production Company. He is devoted to helping small businesses bridge success gaps by providing in-depth, actionable advice on digital marketing, SEO, and small business growth. Follow him on Twitter @usmanintrotech.