Executives are busy. Don’t blow it.
No one has to be reminded that C-level executives are pressed for time. Despite hours upon hours of organization mapping and cold calling, breaking into a decision-maker’s calendar can feel like trying to break through a brick wall.
You need to be concise and respectful of their time; and it pays to keep a few specific dos and don’ts in mind when communicating with C-level executives.
If you feel like when it’s time to sell a high-level executive, you’re having trouble connecting, then pay attention. We’re going to cover six common but totally avoidable pitfalls that are keeping you out of the C-suite.
Avoid these mistakes at all costs:
1. Using cookie-cutter cold call scripts
Remember, C-level execs are used to cutting through the noise because they’re inundated by outreach. If your script sounds unnatural, or doesn’t get to the point quickly, you’ll likely be shut down.
Within the first 30 seconds, you should make sure to introduce yourself and your company, and let it be known that you respect the executive’s time (without brown-nosing!). Do not multitask during the call and rely on a stale script to do the heavy lifting for you. It won’t. A high-level executive will hear in your voice that you’re distracted and disengaged. It’s cold-calling 101, but many people forget the basics when they think they see the finish line.
2. Using “cute” or overly personal language to set yourself apart
It can’t be stressed enough: C-level executives are too busy to entertain kooky approaches to connecting. We all need to set ourselves apart, but using unorthodox tactics will only waste their time and yours, and could possibly undermine the sale.
When following up, for example, don’t go with anything like, “I’m going to guess you’ve either been abducted by aliens or you’re not interested in my services. Please let me know which it is so I can send help or stop contacting you!” It might be humorous to you, but your prospect’s inbox is bursting at the seams. It comes across as amateur and disrespectful — both of which are approaches that will get you ignored.
3. Neglect cultivating other relationships
Most C-level executives expect that you’ll have been working with other stakeholders within their organization. This is because they often do not make unilateral decisions without input from respected colleagues.
You should build and cultivate relationships with multiple stakeholders and educate them about your solution instead of believing a conversation with a single exec is the answer. That way, when your prospect speaks to them, they’ll already be educated and excited about your offer. Keep others in the loop and you win.
4. Taking middle management for granted
This is related to the last point. Executives at this level are time poor. They often rely on warm introductions from colleagues they know and trust. If you neglect cultivating friendly, respectful relationships with middle management, you risk missing an opportunity to get the introduction you’re really after.
Like we discussed earlier, the CEO often will not make a decision without first discussing it among his group of trusted colleagues. Don’t take middle management for granted. But at the same time, know when it’s worth your time to forge these relationships.
5. Coming across as arrogant
It might sound obvious, but it bears repeating. Acting as if your C-level prospect is lucky to work with you is a huge mistake. There’s a difference between prizing yourself and your offer, and coming across as downright arrogant. Don’t assume your brand carries enough “dominance” to make the sale for you. Instead explain how and why your organization leads the pack and delivers massive value.
Earn their trust, and always err on the side of sincerity.
6. Thinking you can wing the conversation
A doctor wouldn’t wing open-heart surgery. Neither should a salesperson wing a sales appointment. Just because you’ve closed deals with other organizations does not mean you’re prepared for this one. Do your due diligence to get the job done.
Study the organization’s product, their customer base — even speak to their competitors and find a new perspective on the problem they’re facing. Now you have something of great value to offer beyond why they should buy from you. Showing them that you’re in a partnership by offering insight, instead of giving them the same rigamarole you’ve used with other companies, will go the distance toward getting you the deal. Don’t get cocky, do your homework, and always bring your A-game.
Selling to the C-suite isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s thrilling, but it can also be a ton of wasted energy and opportunity if you take the wrong approach. That’s why companies choose to work with us at C-Level Partners. You have a product or service you want to sell. We put you in front of the Right People, in the Right Role, Right Now. It’s what we do. So we invite you to get in touch today.
Until next time…