The 3 Things to Know Before a Sales Meeting with an Executive

The 3 Things to Know Before a Sales Meeting with an Executive
Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

A Sales Meeting with an Executive is Always High Stakes
Solution sellers who get a sales meeting with a target company’s executive consistently close more complex deals than those who sell at lower levels.  But the expectations and needs of C-suite buyers are higher and different from other stakeholders.  A sales meeting with an executive is always high stakes; your odds of winning go up when your sellers are prepared to meet them at the right altitude and pace.

A sales meeting with an executive can give you that inside track on the sales opportunity or at least help build an important relationship on a major sales account. It is critical that you have a meaningful, client-centric, and value-added interaction.

Getting a Sales Meeting with an Executive is Just the First Step
Once you’ve opened the door to a sales meeting with an executive meeting, know that executive buyers expect a much broader, more strategic focus than those prove-yourself meetings with lower-tiered contacts who want to discuss product features, benefits, and costs. To truly engage the executive, Executive Sales Training experts know that you need to quickly identify what matters most, link your offering to their priorities, and articulate value in a concise and compelling manner.

Three Essential Things to Know
Sales management training experts know that if you can sell directly to C-level executives, and do it right, your chance of closing bigger deals faster improves dramatically.  Just remember that executives have limited time and patience and expect that you have done your homework and appreciate what it’s like to be in their shoes. You need to be familiar with their competitive landscape and grasp the key issues from an organization-wide perspective.

How do you gain this perspective, so you can discuss strategies and impact rather than tactics and features? Here are the three research-backed areas to focus on as you prepare:

  1. Know the Client’s Industry
    Executive buyers do not suffer fools.  You need to get the big picture and deeply understand their industry, their competitors, and how the economic, social, political, and technological trends in the marketplace are impacting them — today and in the future. Without a solid grasp on the marketplace context, you will not have the gravitas to be perceived to be able to add value to their business at the right level.

    At the executive level, you are expected to act, behave, and speak like an Executive.  Know acronyms, terms, and trends.  Otherwise, you will either lose the opportunity or be pushed down to a lower, and less influential, level of the organization.

  2. Know the Client’s Company
    We know from sales leader simulation assessment data that you need to develop a deep understanding of your client company’s business within the context of their industry. Do research on not only their products and services, but also on their customers, earnings, organizational changes, and recent news. Use their website, their annual report if they’re public, and any press releases. Perhaps the most valuable source of up-to-date business concerns is an inside contact who is sympathetic to your success and has information about customer experiences.

    You will know you are ready when you understand and can comfortably discuss the strategic implications of their:
    — Financials: income statement, balance sheet, and key ratio trends
    — Outlook: annual reports, analyst reports, and articles

  3. Know the Client’s Players
    According to Gartner, it now takes up to twelve client decision-makers to close a big deal. When the stakes are high, you need to recognize that you are selling to most of the executive tier and beyond at all times.  Research the executive you will meet but also invest the time to paint a picture of the political and decision making web surrounding them.

    Identify individuals with and without influence that support you as well as those who do not. A thorough understanding of the internal company dynamics is of enormous value.  You will know you are on the right track when you know where each key decision maker stands and what matters most to them.

The Bottom Line
Executive buyers do not want to waste time with sales reps who ask what keeps them up at night; they want experienced and trusted advisors who know what matters most and can provide insights and options to help them to conquer their most pressing challenges.  Do your homework, prepare your approach, and ask questions that demonstrate your in-depth understanding of their situation.

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

Evaluate your Performance


Get key strategy, culture, and talent tools from industry experts that work


Health Checks

Assess how you stack up against leading organizations in areas matter most



Download published articles from experts to stay ahead of the competition



Review proven research-backed approaches to get aligned



Stay up to do date on the latest best practices that drive higher performance


Client Case Studies

Explore real world results for clients like you striving to create higher performance