If you’re in sales, you may have heard that you want to get to the top. Why bother with people who can’t make decisions?
And then you attend a sales training session where you hear of the latest clever selling tactics. How to get around the gatekeeper. How to bypass everyone else and get right to the CEO.
You’ve heard some of it before:
- Call just before or after business hours in the hopes the assistant isn’t yet on duty and the phone rings in the executive’s office.
- Sweet-talk the executive assistant.
- Be vague, misleading or yes, even lie in order to make it to the CEO or the highest executive you can.
Whenever possible I enjoy answering my own phone, especially if I know it’s a sales call. I’ve stunned sales people who are stammering on the other end of the line. One guy was so ready to give his misleading lines to an assistant that he literally hung up when he realized he already had me on the line.
But, this post isn’t about how to sell to the CEO. This is about when to sell to the CEO and when not to sell to the CEO or C Suite.
Here’s the problem with the “sell to the top” theory that most trainers don’t understand:
It can be a waste of time.
You can spend all kinds of time trying to reach someone in the C-Suite instead of identifying the person most interested in your product or service. Let’s say I’m the CEO at a large company, and you call me about office supplies. The fact is that there’s likely someone in charge of this area, and it isn’t the CEO. Do you think that the CEO is going to listen to your presentation and then command the purchasing department to override all protocols and buy staplers and highlighters from you?
It can hurt your chances.