Without a doubt, C-level executives are the busiest bunch of people on the planet having a lot on their plate.
Consumed with margins, revenue and strategic goals, it becomes needless to say that they are neither easy to approach nor impress. Why? Because they are daily pestered by people who are constantly trying to sell them products, services, and ideas all the time. Hence, fixing up a meeting with a CXO and further persuading them requires tremendous effort along with the implementation of a few unique tactics to make it through the high competition.
The research by Corporate Visions states that most companies are not satisfied with their ability to sell their products to C-level executives. Almost 67% say that they are underperforming at persuading executive-level prospects to buy the product now. Only 39% were found confident to form meaningful business and financial case to justify any decision taken by the prospects.
Broadly, you need a deep understanding of their vision, their needs, and their mindset. Once you start getting a hang of all of them, you would immediately know within your own-self of whether your product would appeal to the C-level executes. Thus, with a bit of planning and a strategy in place, selling to them doesn’t have to be that hard. Below are 10 powerful tips & techniques that will not only allow you to create an impact & build trust with C-suite executives but also make a relationship worth more than any single sale.
#1- Don’t Hesitate to Use a Sponsor
A sponsor can help you refining your presentation and keeping the prerequisites on track before/during the meeting. With his knowledge and ability to better able to put himself in customer’s shoes, he can also provide you some expert tips in your functional area to get you started while engaging your client/customer in his unique ways.
Make sure your sponsor has a clear understanding of your goals and the role you want to play for your client. For example, knowing basic insights about the client and the problems he is currently facing with the existing set of solutions he has with him will help him to better customize his approach. Thus, uncovering your prospect’s business issues should be the ultimate goal of your sponsor as they hold the ability to engage with them on a different level.
#2- Prioritize Building a Connection
How the connection between two people is established? The connections are made when two people engage in a somewhat informal conversation that brings them closer to discuss personal issues. The same process has to be followed when you are engaging with your prospect. During the brief meeting, try to make him involved in some indirect conversation through which you can identify who he is and what matters to him, both personally & professionally. A personal connection will enhance your chances of him putting his trust in you and also, you will be in a better position to shape the problems & opportunities according to his requirements. Stay smart and alert to get some cues about the CXO’s basic personality traits. This will save you from becoming just another salesperson.
#3- Pour in all your Enthusiasm
Imagine you are at a poker table and have unlimited chips to play, regardless of the cards you get. Do you think it would change your game and make it more interesting? Of course, it would!
Guess what? When having a meeting with your prospect, you actually possess all the chips in the form of your enthusiasm & positive energy. These two are your unlimited chips and when brought to the table, your meeting is more likely to become effective and engaging. Nobody likes to be attentive to the salespeople who do not bring enthusiasm and positive energy to the meeting room. Most often, small changes in your speech patterns can turn a monotonous pitch into an delightful conversation and may even turn them into potential buyers later. Consider modulating your pitch & sentence structure to make it interesting to the listener. Additionally, maintaining positive body language throughout the meeting will make your impression last longer in the executive’s mind.
#4- Engage yourself in a Two-Way Communication
One of the best ways to capture the attention of the CXO with your offering is to make it more like a conversation. This practice will not only help you in making him understand your product completely but also allow you and the prospect to be on the same page. You can open the door to two-way communication by:
- Using questions to let him conclude himself as to how your offering can help. Don’t start telling him directly as to how they can benefit by using your product.
- Listening to your prospect encourages him to get into a conversation mode. Also, it will provide you with some important details which may help you to shape your pitch better.
- Maintaining eye contact and responding to his speech (when required) will reflect your attentiveness and also ensure him that he is being heard.
#5- Adopt a Pragmatic Approach
According to you, your offering may be the best in the market, but the sad reality is that your prospect comes across such pitches every day. They have heard every pitch in the playbook. It is advisable to be pragmatic and realistic in your approach so that your CXO hears you out. Try to be as honest as possible about your product so that you leave no scope for him to research and find out a fact later which you have missed. This will definitely weaken your chances of gaining trust. Also, set achievable expectations. Do not engage in making false promises to the CXO. The deal may turn out to be positive at that time, but the failure of delivery can even lead to the cancellation of the contract.
#6- Differentiate your Product
As a salesperson, you obviously believe that your product is unique. However, this will not serve any purpose till you convince your prospect about it. You need to differentiate your product well and let the CXO know of how his company can benefit if he chooses you above all the competitors existing in the market. If your CXO is not able to see any reason for picking your product, you’ve failed to make your message reach him in the right way.
#7- Use PowerPoint Presentations Sparingly
Let’s accept it; the most the C-level cares about is the results with minimized risks. They are, most often, not interested in knowing the features of your product. So, make sure that your PowerPoint slides are not only short and to the point but also indicates clear benefits of using your service. They should simply understand what you can do for them. Hence, highlight the important pieces of information that are important to summarize what you need to communicate and let them know how you can add real value to their business. Since you will speak less during the demonstration of your presentation, the slides are more likely to shift the focus of the prospect from you. Try to avoid this situation as much as possible; after all, you are the face of the sale process and not the presentation.
#8- Use the Time Wisely
Your prospect will, obviously, not be free to hear your irrelevant questions about weather and traffic. In fact, storytelling will also not help gain the attention of your prospects. Due to the limited time-frame, it is always better to get to the point and tell them what is relevant for them to know (in a conversational style, of course!!!). Brevity is appreciated always. So, it is advisable to use Moses Rule- two slides, five bullets each. Show them the solution, the opportunity and come up with a solid plan to show them how you can add value to their business. Anything unrelated should not be a part of the presentation and better be discarded.
#9- Ensure you are Well-Informed
In a sales pitch, a lack of knowledge is an unforgivable sin. In fact, this is considered to be the most destructive sales practice. Hence, if you want to present yourself as a well-informed sales rep and make a positive impression in the mind of your prospect, you need to know about what matters to him, the successes and challenges he has been facing in his industry, existing products & services, competitor’s product, and most importantly, your product. You need to know every little detail about the product you are offering to him.
Additionally, many salespeople come up well-rehearsed, but with irrelevant facts and figures. You need to know that the C-suite will not spare time to hear anything they don’t need to – they are looking for insights, not data. There is no denial that statistics and facts hold power but as a salesperson, you need to ensure all that you tell to your prospect (which may include few statistics) speaks about their business.
#10- Become Adept at your 30-second Answer
You already know CXOs are busy people, so will you not pitch your idea if you find yourself alone in an elevator with them? You definitely shouldn’t be stopping yourself because the success of any pitch lies in your ability to make it concise by adding a ‘wow’ factor at the same time. Prepare a 30-second answer to get to the point to hold the attention of the prospect who already has 10 other things in mind. Remember time will always fall short and so, the target should be to make him understand your idea and what it can do for the business while leaving him wanting more. Don’t forget to make it conversational since the idea here is not to close the deal but start a conversation to entice him.