Maybe you had a previous sales job where you made quite a few bucks barking up the middle management tree. Or maybe you were slangin and bangin your products directly to the consumer.
Or maybe you’ve never had a sales job in your life. You launched your own business and now you’re in a situation where you have to go hunting the big fish. The company President, the CEO, the CFO, etc. Most of the time you have to corral all of them on the purchase. So now what?
Now obviously you can’t go about interacting with these folks in the same manner you interact with folks in a B2C (Business to consumer) environment or even a middle manager. When it comes to the C-Suite, your biggest competitor isn’t going to be ABC company (price undercutting a-holes as they may be).
Your biggest competitor is literally every single Kyle, Chad, and Jennifer vying for his attention.
From the hundreds of salesmen barraging his inbox, to all the departments who need him to sign this or that and the countless meetings he‘s being dragged into.
Do your research
Glassdoor and LinkedIn are great resources. Never reach out to someone before you’ve done the research.
I can’t tell you how many emails I get from bad salespeople who don’t even know what my company does or my job function.
If information is scarce, rely on your knowledge of the industry to address common issues facing the persona you’re going after. If you’re running your own business I HOPE you have that knowledge readily available.
BE A REAL HUMAN. Nobody likes a bot (amiright Elon?)
Some ways you can do that:
- Be genuine. Actually care about the businesses you reach out to. If all you care about is the paycheck and not helping out those you reach out to it will be painfully obvious.
- Never ask “what keeps you up at night?” It’s a dumb predictable question that will get an immediate eye roll. Lead them to divulge that information with your expert knowledge of the industry. “Mr. Smith, I’ve spoken to several company Presidents over the last few months and they are all telling me that XYZ has become a real problem lately. How is (insert company name) addressing that?”
- If you connect with your target on LinkedIn, never EVER sales pitch right out the gate. Make a personal connection first and share free knowledge resources with them that they might find helpful. A sales pitch right after a connection is made is a surefire way to piss them off or get blocked
- Avoid stereotypical rapport building. “Hey I saw a photo of you at a restaurant on social media. I like to eat food too! Look how much we have in common!” (insert sales pitch word vomit).
Understand decisions aren’t made in silos anymore
You just launched your business, life is good, and right now you are the sole decision maker. This is rarely the case in well-established companies. In fact, in the average firm of 100-500 employees, you’ll be looping in 7 of them.
Purchases have to be coordinated across all personas these days. If your decision maker is the CEO, chances are you’re still going to have to involve the CFO, the CIO, the Director of Operations, etc. This can be frustrating but patience is a virtue, and remember, you’re there to help them and their business with your product or service, not just secure a fat check.
If you’ve made a good connection with your target decision maker he should be able to give you inside information on what’s important to the others before you meet with them so you can prepare accordingly.
Bonus if they can facilitate a meeting with you and all of the decision makers where they are all present at the same time.
In part 2 we’ll discuss tips on how to conduct a successful presentation to the C-suite and follow-up steps!