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Excellence In Professional Selling

Talking to the Chief

Executive Selling Tips

Dealing with the ultimate decision makers is the most expedient way to sell your company’s product or service. Sometimes, the decision-making process is delegated to individuals within various parts of a company’s hierarchy. They are tasked with the evaluation and selection of a product or service. However, depending on the size or complexity of a purchase, some decisions will rest solely upon executive-level management. For example, a Chief Information Officer will be the one involved in selecting a corporate communications system that affects over 20,000 employees worldwide. Likewise, the Chief Financial Officer of a company will probably be the one who decides what accounting firm to use to ensure they are complying with appropriate SEC regulations. 

Selling on an executive level has obvious advantages.  You’ll know you’re dealing with the person who will ultimately sign off on your proposal. However, even the most experienced sales professionals need to keep some important points in mind. Executives have different needs than mid-level managers or other people with authority in an organization.  Over the years, research has shown that while executives share many traits with those who work for them, they also have particular needs that must be addressed. 

Listed below are some important pointers and guidelines that should be followed with selling at the executive level:

  • Use Your Time Wisely - Your sales meetings need to be well-organized and concise. You should consider yourself blessed if you were able to finally make it in front of a member of the executive team. Make most of your time and use it wisely. Executives are busy and don’t want to feel like their time is wasted.
  • Put on Your Best – When you deal with executives, you need to meet a higher standard than when dealing with lower level-decision makers. Executives do tend to be more judgmental and critical. When meeting with an executive, put on your best show to impress key decision-makers.
  • Follow the Boy Scout Motto – Be prepared.  Executives don’t want to fool around with someone who isn’t ready for a meeting.  They expect you to be able to provide answers or at least be able to track them down.  Knowledge and preparedness is crucial.  Executives want to hear from subject matter experts and those with an in-depth and strategic understanding of the topic at hand.  If necessary, bring along a technical expert or someone who can provide more in-depth detail.  Don’t bring a warm body… bring one of your sharpest colleagues.
  • Look for the Right Hook – Executives may hit you with a question out of left field.  When going into a meeting, expect the unexpected.  A meeting may take a completely different direction.  This is something that can happen after the sale, too.  Learn how to think on your feet.  Executives respect those individuals who are able to quickly adapt to a changing situation.
  • Be Professional – No matter what you do, be professional.  Professionalism applies to your wardrobe, behavior, communication and preparedness.
  • Maintain Integrity – Executives look to do business with those who will act ethically and with integrity.  Mind your Ps and Qs and make sure that you follow through on your commitments, don’t make promises you can’t keep and avoid badmouthing other competitors. 
  • Speak to their Strategic Concerns – When discussing the benefits of your product or service, speak the executive’s language.  They’re concerned with business issues.  Use benefit statements and speak to the business issues of greatest concern to them.
  • Loosen Up – While some nervousness is to be expected, don’t become overwhelmed. Executives will see right through someone who is in over their head. Try to maintain your general personality but do so in a professional manner. Just be yourself and do what you do best without being too stuffy or wooden. 

Remember, selling to executives means you are dealing with those who can make or break a deal.  They are the ones who ultimately sign the checks.  Selling to executives requires extra preparation and skill but the financial rewards can be larger and much more lucrative.

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