Selling to the C-suite increases the chances of you closing the deal and can significantly shorten the sales cycle— that’s what we call a win-win.
But selling effectively to this group has its own set of challenges.
Not only do you have to be mindful of their time, you still have to find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition. You also need to be concise and resourceful, all the while focusing on how your solution drives their bottom line.
So how do you take these pieces of knowledge to make sure you nail your meeting with the C-suite? It’s all about how you prepare, deliver, and follow up to get a leg up on the competition to close the deal.
Gain a Deeper Understanding
It may seem obvious to start your process by conducting research into the organization and executive in question, but you’d be surprised by how few salespeople actually prepare for these meetings.
C-level leaders expect salespeople to have an in-depth understanding of key business issues facing the company, expressing little patience for those who don’t bother to do their homework.
Conducting research upfront allows you to identify commonalities and pain points that are driving the decision. Start by looking at the company’s website, industry news, annual reports, press releases, product information, financial documents, and social media accounts, especially LinkedIn. This exercise will help you understand how you can provide value and build rapport with the executive.
Acquire Financial Insight
More often than not, C-level executives only care about how your solution will impact their bottom-line goals. Having financial insights into your prospect’s company will help you better map your solution to their business objectives.
To kick off your research, start with the company’s annual report, especially if you’re going after a publicly held firm. The financial review in the annual report will provide you with insight into the company’s financial overview, allowing you to the find the intersection of their problem and your solution.
As part of this process, you should also dive deeper to gain an understanding of how to measure the impact of your solution on the organization. Finding performance gaps, discovering opportunities, and understanding historical and industry trends will make your case more compelling.
Platforms and databases, such as ClientIQ, will provide this additional information. It then becomes your job to translate these KPIs to the organization, which in essence becomes the argument for adopting your solution.
Point Out the Benefits
C-level executives are strapped for time, so make sure to start your conversation by immediately answering this question: What’s the point?
The goal is to inspire confidence and to do it quickly.
While it may seem counterintuitive to the traditional formula of starting small and building up, doing so will ensure that you grab their attention. If you’re spending time focused on the features and benefits of your product, it is a sure-fire way not to get invited back.
Most industry surveys report that more than 80 percent of the decision makers think that sales reps are unprepared for the conversation. However, knowing the measurable impact of your solution and starting with those KPIs, you can easily drive the conversation around results.
Another good rule of thumb to follow is to predict questions you may receive or objections to your solution. Break those questions down into themes and prepare your answers ahead of time. Doing so will show that you have absolute command of the situation and will make you more credible and trustworthy.
Establish Next Steps
You may be tempted to leave after explaining your solution, but not establishing next steps is detrimental to continuing the relationship.
End the conversation by asking questions to get a read on the situation so that you can use that information to structure your next encounter. Assuming they are open to it, go ahead and set a day/time that you will touch base to discuss your solution further.
Follow up with a recap, highlighting once again the measurable value, and remember to keep it quick and easy to read in a bulleted format.
If there are outstanding questions or objections, make sure you follow up with materials to cover any concerns.
By following these simple strategic steps around planning and engaging your decision maker, you’re bound to make an impact at your next C-level meeting.
Found this advice useful? Subscribe to our blog below to learn more.