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More executives today are involving themselves in the purchase process of long-cycle, large, or complex sales.
Some sellers are unnerved by this development because selling to top executives isn’t something they are trained to do.
There is definitely a knack to selling CEO’s effectively. It requires a healthy dose of confidence along with an ability to relate on a high, trusted level with the executive.
I cut my teeth (my twenties) on selling to CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies. Made a lot of mistakes! Eventually, I caught on and made several home run sales.
In my experience, the best results occur when you keep in mind these twelve tips:
12 Tips to Sell Any C-Suite Executive In Any Industry, Anywhere
- Link the purchase to one or more strategic issues. To do this you must build trust and relate on their level, communicating with clarity, conciseness and confidence.
- Quantify the positive difference your product or service will make on their desired outcomes. The higher up you go – the more your messaging must speak to value.
- Do your homework. Know the business, know the players and know the issues in their industry.
- Don’t sound like a typical “salesman” by using worn-out phrases such as: I’d like to meet you and tell you about our… We’ve been in business for fifty years… Our quality is second to none… I’m just following up or… Tell me about your business.
- Speak their language, use their verbiage and adopt their terms.
- Ask intelligent questions if you expect to earn their respect. The higher you go the more you must be strategic with your questions.
- When, not if the executive hits you with a rogue wave objection, be prepared with effective answers or questions to handle their resistance. CEO’s can be brusque and using excuses like they have no budget, or it’s the wrong timing, are common.
- Use a combination of phone calls and emails to set appointments. Send emails or place your phone calls at the times of highest probability of getting through: early mornings before 7 a.m., after 3 p.m. on Friday, early morning on Saturdays, and five minutes before or after normal business hours.
- Write short, powerful emails and include the call to action in the first sentence.
- Leave powerful, brief (under 30 seconds) voicemail messages. Focus on one or two quick reasons why they should invest the time to speak with you. Do NOT sell your product; sell them on why they will benefit from a meeting.
- Be prepared to communicate with multiple phone messages and emails. Take a long-term view and spread out messaging over five to seven day intervals, keepin gin mind the client’s circumstances.
- Ask for at least eighteen, twenty, or even twenty-five minutes, never under ten minutes and never ask for an hour. Less than ten minutes is considered unrealistic, and thirty minutes or more may be considered too long.
Bonus Territory! Be certain the purchase decision for your product or services is made at the executive level, and not at a mid-level management position. Ask yourself: Does the purchase involve a sizeable amount of money? Is it a strategic issue or problem for the business? Does this require a significant capital expenditure? Does this purchase involve a fundamental change in how they operate or compete? If the answer is “yes” then a C-suite executive will likely influence or make the final decision entirely – set your aim high and don’t be delegated to lower levels too easily.
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