Sales professionals are resilient, consistently adapting their messaging and presentations to suit varied industry prospects. Overcoming objections, and turning rejections into possibilities, are scenarios that teams strive for and, with proper research, can be attained. So, why does selling to the C-suite appear to be the ultimate obstacle to even the most seasoned sellers?
C-suite, or chief suite, is a term to refer to executive managers within a company: the CEO, CFO, COO, and CIO, to name a few. The sign-off from these individuals is often the final stage of the internal decision-making chain, making understanding how to sell to the C-suite a crucial skill set. In this post, we’ll explain how to do just that.
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C-suite executives have demanding schedules. They juggle constant business trips and a barrage of meetings, offering minimal leisure for casual conversations or fixed office hours. In such circumstances, establishing a rapport with their assistants can pave the way for more direct interactions.
But before you get them on the phone, you’ll need to consider their motivators and values compared to other prospects, like VPs or directors. C-suites tend to focus on the big picture and look for opportunities that offer more than just immediate benefits. To truly capture their interest, frame your product or service as a proactive measure that shields their enterprise from unforeseen pitfalls. Ensure that your proposition seamlessly aligns with their overarching objectives and visions.
A strong relationship can build the foundation for a successful sale. Here are some tips for establishing rapport and trust with high-level decision-makers:
Research and preparation are vital when selling to the C-suite to convey the right message. However, tailoring your messaging to these decision-makers also means taking a unique look at the work you’ll have to do behind the scenes.
Being able to understand the decision-making style of the decision-maker is a no-brainer. Generally, there are four categories to contend with:
Conduct thorough research, pay attention to trends, and review news related to the industry or company itself. This will give you perspective beyond their About Us page or MVV. Attempt to identify potential issues or challenges the organization is facing or anticipate them, and leverage your experience with similar organizations to create influential messaging.
Crafting a messaging that resonates with C-suite executives requires a thoughtful approach. You can’t highlight the same concerns you would with a director or VP since their perspectives and, in some ways, their priorities are fundamentally different. They're looking at the grand scheme of things, demanding a message that truly resonates. Consider the following tips:
Similar to any offer you put together or slide deck you present, selling to C-level executives can come with pushback. The important thing is how you handle objections, using your previous experience and newfound knowledge to overcome the barriers they see. Here are some pointers to circumvent common concerns:
Position your product or service as an investment that offers substantial rewards and justifies the risk. Highlight the long-term value and ROI it can generate.
Emphasize your company's credibility, authority, and market presence. Provide evidence of successful partnerships and testimonials from other trusted clients.
Engage the prospect in open-ended and layered questions to uncover their needs. Demonstrate how your offering alleviates specific challenges and adds value.
Explore whether the perceived lack of urgency is a genuine timing issue or a result of competing priorities. Schedule a follow-up meeting to dive deeper into their challenges.
Selling to the C-suite requires a deep understanding of the decision-maker's motivations and preferences. It also requires confidence in your skills and competence, not just your product or service. C-suites want to see that you have done your research and how you adapt to their list of questions and concerns.
Now that you have learned the critical strategies for selling to the C-suite, you can craft a unique approach that will resonate with executives across companies. For more information, check out our eBook: Selling to the C-Suite to hone your abilities to sell to C-level executives.
Tom Snyder is the founder of Funnel Clarity; a training and consulting company focused on humanizing sales. Snyder’s passion is helping companies achieve measurable sales performance improvement. Previously, Snyder spent 10 years with the sales training firm Huthwaite Inc, culminating in the role of CEO. He later founded Business Performance Partners, a sales and strategy consulting firm that evolved into Funnel Clarity. Snyder is a sought after international speaker and was named one of the Most Influential Sales Leaders. He has authored two McGraw Hill best sellers, “Escaping the Price Driven Sale” (2007) and “Selling in a New Market Space” (2010).