The C-Level executives or the C-suite are people like the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operating Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Chief Information Officer, etc.
Presenting to an executive is not just another sales call.
By the time a meeting with a C-Level Executive is on the calendar, chances are that you already met with some middle management people and explained your offer to them.
But as you prepare for your meeting with an executive who has purchasing power and can call the shots, there is one important thing to keep in mind: this is your shot to deliver your message to the one person who really needs to hear it.
6 Core Tips for Selling to C-Level Executives
It is time to bring your ‘a-game’ to the table. It is time to shine.
Here are the rules you must keep to;
It is more about Results, not Price
Most times, the C-Level executive is focused on expertise and results, not on price.
If you do mention price, you may find yourself being ushered to the purchasing department faster than you can say ‘oops’.
The questions you ask and the information you share needs to be custom-focused on how you can help solve the problem at hand and not on how you are the cheapest vendor in town.
Until the value question is answered satisfactorily, price negotiation is irrelevant.
It is all about Trust
People at this level place a high degree of value in the opinions of people they trust.
Until there is a level of trust between you and the executive, you can count on getting very little done.
You remember that I have said your expertise and result is what the executives care most about which is why it is important to have established some sort of thought leadership in your niche by blogging, actively participating in market-related events, delivering talks, etc
Respect their Time
C-Level Executives are busy people.
Respect their time and know they develop opinions fast and make decisions even faster.
Be punctual for meetings, and most of all make each minute you have with them valuable.
Do not talk Specifics. Talk Strategic
If you go into a meeting with an executive and start talking about specific product features and detailed information, you are talking about things the executive neither cares about nor have an interest in.
People at this level look at the big picture.
They are strategic thinkers.
Talk in strategic terms.
Watch out for Influencers
Although it is good news to secure an appointment with a C-Level executive because the C-Level executives have the power to say ‘Yes’ even when most other people say ‘No’, you should be aware of certain influencers.
In some cases, the C-Level executives are not the buyers, oftentimes, the approvers and the buyers are at a level below that of the C-Level executive.
So while access to the C-Level executive is beneficial, it is not always a silver bullet.
Watch out for Gatekeepers
A gatekeeper is a person who controls access to something, or more abstractly, who is granted access to a category or status. Gatekeepers assess who is “in or out,”
Every C-Level executive has a gatekeeper.
Treat the gatekeeper as you would the executive.
Gatekeepers go by a wide number of names such as Administrative Assistant, Executive Assistant, Secretary or Manager.
They may not even be located in the same office space as the executive but they are still gatekeepers.
These people control the calendar and they often even control the overall thinking of the executive.
Selling to an executive does not have to be overly difficult.
On the contrary, it actually can be quite lucrative and productive if you follow these six tips.
You need to be sure you understand the problem the C-Level Executive is interested in solving, then focus on how your product or service can solve that problem.
Another rule of thumb is to allow the C-Level Executive to do more of the talking; in fact, if he stops talking, ask some more questions to get him to talk some more.
If you listen to him/her keenly, you will understand his/her pain points and what is important.
When you listen first before you talk, you are sure to be hitting home on the possible solutions to the problem(s) on the ground, and this is what the C-Level Executive wants to hear.
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