Most salespeople get excited when they get a conversation with a c-level, often thinking that the hardest part is over (getting the meeting).
In time: C-level is what we call the highest hierarchical level executives within a company.
The letter C stands for chief, in English, and we can translate it as chief.
They are the directors of the different areas of a company (CEO, CMO, CFO, and CRO) and, generally, the most influential people in the business.
It is important to keep in mind that the main responsibility of these professionals is to ensure that the company’s strategy is being followed. They are always focused on macro results.
This idea makes sense if we think that in a scheduled meeting we get more attention from the lead, with a direct conversation and easier value generation.
But when you talk to a c-level, you need to have a very well-targeted context for their scenario.
A c-level is the type of professional who doesn’t have time, so if you’re not relevant and don’t generate value within the first few minutes of calling, chances are he won’t want to talk to you anymore.
This difficulty comes up here frequently, so I’ve summarized the 8 main points you should consider before setting up a conversation with a c-level.
Tip #1: Have a flexible schedule
The meeting schedule must always be defined in advance.
- What will you say to the lead?
- What are the main points that will be discussed at this meeting?
- What is the priority of these points?
Remember: entering a qualifier without a planned agenda is not an option!
However, a closed schedule, which does not allow for the inclusion of new lead needs, which may arise during the conversation, can lead to the loss of a valuable opportunity.
So, from the beginning of your conversation, be open to change, willing to change the agenda and discuss the lead’s questions throughout the conversation.
Create a pact of trust between you.
Also, being able to summarize what should be passed during the conversation is fundamental.
This ability to synthesize is essential in conversations with c-levels, as the meeting can end sooner than expected if something unforeseen happens in the lead’s company.
Tip #2: Get to the point
To better understand the context of this lead, in order to generate rapport, a team of farmhouses recommends you some questions to ask the company’s strategic decisions such as:
- Changes in the business model;
- Any new pronouncements;
- Any product launch;
- Between others.
The time to generate value with this lead is much shorter, as it has little time available.
The c-level doesn’t want to know about the details of your tool, it wants to understand what is the final result you can generate with his company.
If you’re doing a demo, focus on how your solution helps the lead achieve its strategic goals, not every feature that a typical user would be interested in knowing.
Tip #3: Watch the number of questions
Taking into account the logic of a consultative sale, it is easy to get lost in the lead scenario understanding questions, but in this case, it is essential that the questions asked are very well thought out.
In a survey conducted by Gong.io, a negative correlation was found between an excess of discovery questions and closing deals.
According to the study, the sales meetings that were most successful were those in which the salesperson discovered 4 lead problems:
- The number of problems an SDR discovers the call is directly related to their success rate and find 3 or 4 problems, increases the rate at 81% and 85% , respectively;
- Asking 15 to 18 questions in a qualifying call does not differ as much ineffectiveness as asking 7 to 10 questions, ideally between 11 and 14 questions.
Discovery questions tend to generate value for the salesperson as they can better understand the context of the lead.
For those who are answering this type of question, especially when we talk about c-levels with little time available, it’s natural to get bored and get angry.
Since I know your goal is to gain the lead’s sympathy and trust, beware of irrelevant questions.
Always try to research about that professional and their company before the call, at least on LinkedIn and on the company’s website.
Oh, and I recommend reading this text with the main sales statistics if you want to better understand these numbers 🙂
Tip #4: Show What These Executives Are Missing
You’ve already noticed that a c-level doesn’t have much patience for a sales pitches, right? You must be asking yourself:
How am I going to show my point and educate the lead?
These decision-makers want to talk to those who show what they can’t see. So, work the loss trigger well!
I’ll explain better, stay here with me.
We were able to clearly show what the lead is missing through SPIN Selling.
From the moment you manage to validate a problem the lead is going through (of course, a problem you help solve), the idea of SPIN is to show the main implications of this challenge.
- What other areas does this issue affect?
- Does he waste money or time on it?
- Is his business presenting other difficulties as a result of this problem?
Make it clear to the lead that the longer it takes them to resolve this, the more they will be lagging behind.
A good way to generate urgency is by showing something that competitors are already doing while they’re still thinking about whether to apply or not.
Trust me: this is a very effective method of persuasion. The impression that they are behind making people work twice as hard to improve something.
That way, you get your lead’s attention and generate urgency for hiring your solution.
Tip #5: Don’t forget the other company stakeholders
When a c-level needs to make a decision to purchase a plot in Capital Smart City, it usually seeks to integrate other people into the process.
It is important, therefore, to include these influencers in your sales cycle, with exclusive follow-ups to make them advocates of your solution.
In this content on our blog, we teach you how you can approach an influencer and make him your key selling point.
This is because, in a transaction that has a high impact on the company’s cash or operations, he will think twice before saying yes.
He doesn’t want the consequences of that decision to be just on his back.
If more people in his environment believe in his solution, his insecurity is reduced and, for him, the responsibility is shared with the other employees.
Therefore, you must bring the other members of the company to your side, so that the decision-maker feels confident in your solution.
In addition, influencers are often the end-users of your solution.
Therefore, their opinion is very important, not only in the decision-making process but also in the implementation and success of your solution within the company.
Remembering that your approach must be different in both cases:
- An influencer feels what latent pain he has and wants to know how your solution will help him in the short term, making his process more efficient;
- A decision-maker, who is above the power line, wants to know what the long-term benefits of the solution will be, how you will reduce costs and increase revenue.
Tip #6: Show confidence when approaching c-levels
Of course, an important meeting can bring some anxiety to the sales reps, but showing this in an exaggerated way can get you out of the game!
It takes confidence to convince a c-level that your solution can help them achieve their goals.
Remember that you are the expert in your solution and, as much as the lead has the experience, he/she needs to make decisions and take actions in different areas, losing some of the practice.
Meanwhile, you have more specific knowledge in your solution and area of expertise and can generate relevant insights for that manager.
That is, he is not doing you a favor by accepting a meeting with you, it is interesting for him to talk to you.
Tip #7: Make a sincere self-criticism
It is common for salespeople to feel insecure about evaluating themselves all the time, especially when dealing with difficult meetings that are very relevant to a potential business.
There is no magic formula for becoming an off-the-curve salesperson.
You need to make an effort, be always on the lookout for new relevant information, and evaluate yourself. And yes, all the time.
Whenever you leave a meeting, reflect on how you handled this conversation:
- Would you like to have done something differently?
- Did any questions bring insecurity?
- Did any lead reaction take you by surprise?
- Do you believe you could have prepared better?
The best way to improve is to assess yourself.
Without understanding what can be improved, we are unable to direct assertive action plans to develop points of attention.
The self is the first step in their professional development.
Tip #8: Know when to ask for help
If you’re new to this type of selling, don’t hesitate to ask for help when you feel it’s necessary. If you’re still feeling unsure, see if a more experienced sales executive can join you.
Before entering the meeting, it is very useful to ask for tips on what to do and what to avoid in a conversation of this relevance. Look to your colleagues and your manager for guidance.
Also, whenever you are able to record the meeting, when it is done by video or by phone call, do it! That way, you get honest feedback, from your manager, your team and even your.
Self-assessment, as I said, is very important, but we often fail to understand what we did wrong.
We don’t notice language addictions or cues that were given by the lead. Even the way you express yourself can be too aggressive, or your intonation too weak.
It’s difficult to assess this alone. A second (third, fourth…) opinion is always welcome!
Conclusion: how to sell to c-levels?
These are the main points of attention and the main tips for you to prepare yourself for a conversation with a c-level:
- Have a flexible schedule;
- Go straight to the point;
- Watch the number of questions;
- Show what these executives are missing;
- Don’t forget the other stakeholders of the company;
- Show confidence when approaching c-levels;
- Make a sincere self-criticism;
- Know when to ask for help.