In a previous post, I shared my opinions on selling to the top of an organization and why it isn’t always the best route to success.
There are obviously times when selling to the top is not only smart, but it’s required. Recently, I was asked about how to approach busy professionals with an idea, product, or service. If you are selling to senior executives, here are a few guidelines that may prove helpful.
As a sales leader, knowing your own company and your product is a requirement. Take it a step further. You need to know our company, too. When someone obviously hasn’t so much as looked at the company’s Web site, he has already lost credibility. Don’t flaunt your advanced preparation, but work in ways you think we will benefit from a relationship.
It applies on the phone, too. I can’t tell you how many people who finally do get me on the line are not prepared. If you’re ready for the gatekeeper, but not the person you’re targeting, here’s a hint: Don’t make the call. Do your homework.
Don’t launch into a stream of acronyms or nonsensical statements. No, I’m not meeting with you for an hour to learn to “drive efficiencies throughout the organization, maximizing ROI and improving profits.” Really. We do that every day, and we know the business and you don’t. So, be clear on what the benefit is to the organization. Don’t use complex language designed to impress.
We’re all busy. Don’t drag it out. Most executives are incredibly busy and bottom-line oriented. If you catch my attention, then you will have more leeway and time to make your case.
5 B's When Selling to the C's
I’m impressed when you know your product, but I’m more impressed when you know how it will help me. How will you solve our problems? That’s what I’m interested in. I will never forget one meeting where the woman prepared so well that I offered her a job on the spot. That’s the power of preparation and knowledge.
C-level executives are generally able to read people fairly well. They aren’t likely to be fooled by high-pressure tactics or overt manipulation. If you name drop, we may validate what you say. (Once, I had a salesperson indicate that another executive in town was a very satisfied client. Within a minute, I sent a quick text to the executive and had a response that was not flattering. When I cut the meeting short, the salesperson didn’t even know why.) When you speak with integrity, honesty and concern, you have an advantage.
All of these guidelines are important when selling to the C-Suite. They are equally important to all sales presentations. The preparation may be different, but the principles remain the same. Here’s to your prepared, clear, crisp, knowledgeable and honest presentations. May they bring you much success!