Connecting with senior leadership can be difficult. Here’s how to make it happen.
Whether you’re a seasoned sales pro or a new hire in your first week on the phones, connecting with senior leadership can be tricky. They, like you, want to build and maintain deep relationships with clients and vendors, but it can be tough to find your way into their schedule.
While getting valuable face time with a busy, C-level executive might be tricky, it’s not impossible. And once you get there, there’s a sort-of code to maximizing your time with them. The good news is, that code is crackable — you just have to know the combination!
Whether you find yourself on the line with a decision maker during a cold call, or you’re presenting a full-on pitch to them in person, these tips to connecting with the men and women of the C-suite are critical to the outcome of your discussion.
Leave The Discovery Questions At The Door
The quickest way to put off a time-poor decision maker is to show them you didn’t do your homework. C-level executives don’t want to be bogged down with minutiae, especially if you’re asking questions that quick research could’ve answered.
Speak directly to their pain points and demonstrate that you have a working knowledge of their business, the industry, and how you fit into the equation. You’ve gotten into their office (or on the phone) so don’t lose them by coming across as unprepared.
Before you pick up the phone to talk to senior leadership, you should already know:
- Who their competition is
- What their competition is doing
- What industry-leading competitors are doing
- What the regional market in their industry looks like
- How their business operates
- What are their biggest challenges, opportunities, etc.
Of course, it’s fine to ask clarifying questions in your meeting, but decision makers want to know what new insights you have to offer and what opportunities you see. Come prepared with that information above all else.
Draft Talking Points That Are Goal-Oriented
Don’t fall victim to this easily avoidable problem. When you over or under-prepare for a meeting, you run the risk of: 1. Building an agenda that is too jam-packed with talking points to take in information as it flows from your prospect, and 2. Missing key points that are important to your prospect and coming across as unfocused.
Winging it is never a good idea, but it can be catastrophic in the C-suite. Being unprepared shows a lack of respect for the executive’s time. Rather than drafting an agenda that speaks to general talking points, hone in on your goals for the meeting. This allows you to guide the conversation along toward your ideal ending point. Keep your meeting on track with relevant points that keep the discussion moving but focused. This is exactly the way a decision maker wants to spend their time: addressing problems with real solutions and moving on once those problems are solved.
Be An Active Listener
Executives are used to being respected, and that means when they talk, you listen. Hard. Don’t just wait until they take a breath to toss some buzzwords into the mix — that’s the kind of pushy sales tactics that will get on your prospect’s nerves. Instead, play to their ego. Offer your respect in the form of silence and deep consideration.
When you’re truly listening, there’s more opportunity to be flexible with your talking points, which means finding opportunities to address an issue they raise that you may not have rehearsed for. If you steamroll the discussion, not only are you dissolving your best chance at building rapport with your prospect (and risk coming across as rude as you do it), but you may be ignoring the opportunity to learn about and address their real concerns.
Remember: You’re The CVO
Keep in mind that, while you may be chatting with the CEO, you’re the CVO — the Chief Value Officer. It’s your job to lend value to the conversation and deliver value in the form of industry insights, improved processes, streamlined communication, enhanced client relations, and more. Whatever product or service you offer, it’s up to you to show your prospect how you can add value to their business.
The conversation is a dialogue — not a monologue. Listen, show respect, come prepared, and get to the heart of the matter, and you’ll master connecting with the C-suite in no time at all.
And like always, get in touch with us at C-Level Partners if you want a true force multiplier to step in and generate qualified sales opportunities for you… practically on demand. It’s what we do. We put your sales team in front of the Right People, in the Right Role, Right Now! Reach out today to learn more.