October 15, 2013

A client sales leader recently expressed frustration at the excuses she hears why her team doesn’t call higher: “takes too much time,” “executives don’t want to talk to us,” “we get referred down.”

She then shared her real suspicion: they’re intimidated; they’re not sure what message to deliver; they lack confidence having the right conversation with the right person.

The necessity for engaging higher within accounts has never been greater. Approval for even modest investments now often rests at executive levels, and deals are much more likely to stall, or worse, when you’re unable to confidently engage customer executives.

Preparation breeds confidence

Preparation is the best way to build confidence for any sales call. When selling to executives, remember, it’s all about them, their business and their business performance. 

Here are three ways for applying business acumen to help you feel as confident having business conversations with C-Suite executives as with any other decision-maker:

1. Know the executive’s prioritised business initiatives - Initiate executive conversations around the customer’s stated business initiatives. This demonstrates you’ve taken the time to understand their business. Your objective is to validate that the initiatives you’ve identified are priorities relevant to the target executive’s direct area of responsibility. Asking executives to ‘tell you about their initiatives’ is the fastest way to end the conversation. Executives aren’t interested in being interviewed.  Prepare using Management Presentations, Earning Calls and other available resources to expedite gaining customer insights. 

2. Participate in quantifying the value of your solutions - Too many salespeople mistakenly believe that computing a project’s projected return on investment (ROI) is something the customer alone must own. This type of hands-off ‘let the customer compute ROI’ is a flawed approach. You’ve sold your solutions many more times than the executive has bought it, leverage that experience. Prepare by getting comfortable talking about the positive financial impact you can deliver. That’s what executives want to know.

3. Role play your executive conversation - If you’re not comfortable with role playing, get over it. It’s the best way to simulate the scenarios that can derail any well-rehearsed executive conversation and foresee how to effectively respond when the dialogue digresses. When you role play to prepare for executive engagements, you develop the ability to deviate from your plan, yet still have a successful business conversation. Business acumen and financial acumen are essential skills for today’s sellers. When you understand what success looks like from your customer’s perspective, deals flow that much easier.  

Let us know what you think.

For additional guidance, view our webinar: Reaching Hard to Reach Executives.


October 15, 2013

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