How to Sell to Executives

How to Sell to Executives
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What’s Your “How to Sell to Executives” Score?
Okay, fess up. How successful have you been, really, in gaining access to and closing deals with executive-level buyers?

We know that being able to garner a face-to-face or even a phone meeting with executive-level buyers is difficult. Whether you have to maneuver through voice mail or convince a gatekeeper that you have the chops to earn an audience with a C-Level decision-maker, success requires specific executive selling skills, expertise, and perseverance. It also requires the ability to deliver the right message in a compelling, succinct way.

Some Practical Advice
What approaches work best with C-level executives? How can you earn credibility, their willingness to accept a meeting, and their confidence in your proposed approach?

4 Approaches to Sell to Executives
Here are 4 approaches, not necessarily listed in the order of their effectiveness, that resonate with the executives we have worked with in our over two decades of experience in sales strategy, sales culture, and sales training:

  1. Be an Expert in Current Business Priorities
    Knowing the issues that kept client executives awake at night used to be the simple requirement for earning the right to an initial sales meeting with an executive buyer. Now it’s just the ticket to play the game. Today, you need not only to be conversant with an executive’s known business priorities, but you must also be able to demonstrate that you have addressed the issues before in similar circumstances and can clearly show the measurable impact of your proposed solutions.
  2. Have a Clear Value Proposition that Sets You Apart
    To grab the attention of executives, you need to be able to persuasively describe your unique value proposition in a way that matters, makes sense, and sets you apart from the competition.  What is it that your solution can provide that is better than all of the available alternatives? Believable differentiation in terms of cost, quality, speed, or approach is how you gain an advantage over the others hoping to close a deal.
  3. Use Comparative Data to Identify Hot Spots
    While benchmarking does not apply to a company’s unique circumstances, it can certainly provide beneficial data points and openings for discussion.  Can you do some research to provide comparative benchmarks to highlight potential weak spots? Executives tend to pay close attention to how their organization stacks up against others in their field.
  4. Provide Valuable, Current, and Future C-Level Insights
    Providing C-Level insights is the one approach that we have found most effective at persuading executives of a sales rep’s credibility and at gaining access.  When you can share insight into your prospect’s business today and tomorrow that highlights an overlooked need, you demonstrate that you truly have your prospect’s best interests at heart. That means being able to have executive-level discussions about what they already know AND what they may not know about their business.

    This approach, assuming that you truly have your buyer’s best interests at heart, quickly shifts you from a salesperson trying to close a deal to a trusted advisor trying to help an executive to succeed. The exact place you need to be.

The Bottom Line
It is not enough these days to know something about the business of your executive-level prospects. You need to offer something of real value – a provocative, timely insight – to pique their interest and persuade them that time with you will be well spent.

To learn more about how to sell to executives, download 5 Field Tested Tips to Better Sell to the C-Suite

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