Maybe your rep just got lucky. She landed an appointment with the CEO of one of your major customers. She had what it takes to get in the door. Now does she have what it takes to close the deal?
Positioning at the C-level in your customer can get your business the visibility and consideration you might not otherwise get. It can differentiate you enough to land the deal you can’t afford to lose while your competitors are scrapping at the middle management level or better yet, negotiating with the procurement department. Develop a sales strategy that aligns to these senior level buyers, which includes understanding what their business issues are and the type of value and messages we need to communicate to capture their attention. One of the biggest complaints CEOs cite is that sellers don’t understand the customer’s business and, more specifically, don’t understand what’s really on the CEO’s mind. Provide meaningful input that addresses how the CEO looks at the business. Talking about product features and benefits to a C-level buyer usually misses the mark. Understanding the concerns of that C-level buyer and where they intersect your offering is a key to successfully navigating the C-suite.
Your organization must also be structured and designed effectively for C-suite selling. Specific sales roles such as major account management, supplemented by experts in the company’s products and applications can combine to provide a business oriented solution with the depth to deliver.
Look at your current inventory of talent and how their capabilities match up to working at the senior level of the customer.
- Do they have the executive presence to roam the thick carpets of the C-suite?
- Can they think like the C-level buyer and understand what’s important, or are they simply focused on offering your company’s products?
- Do they have the creative capability to take your company’s products and meld them with an offering that matches needs of the C-suite?
Some critical points to know about C-suite selling:
1. The referral your account manager received to the senior buyer is perishable. It literally lasts minutes into the first sales call. He or she must be able to convert that reference to credibility very quickly.
2. C-suite buyers need to recognize that your seller knows what’s important to them; your seller understands their business; your seller can develop solutions that will address their needs; and your seller will be effective and efficient with their time, which is a valuable commodity.
3. While relationships matter, they have to be robust, not shallow. More contact time doesn’t necessary mean a better relationship with a CEO. Less contact time and higher impact equals a higher value relationship.
Once you’ve established the relationship and proven to be a valuable partner, the C-level relationship, well-cultivated, can provide an ongoing advantage in your major customers.
To learn more, visit SalesGlobe or email Mark Donnolo at email@example.com.