Selling to senior-level, or 'C-Suite,' executives, according to Stephen Bistritz and Nicholas Read, necessitates different abilities and methods than selling to departmental-level executives. It's all about being at the right place at the right time.
Executives are particularly active in the initial step since a new transaction is generally strategic and big.
Executives prefer to limit their engagement and assign fine detail choices to subordinates during the middle portion of the procurement cycle.
In the third phase, executives are brought back to guarantee that the suppliers can deliver on their promises and that the advantages are realized. As a result, we must be in touch with the C-suite.
Join us for the next 10 minutes to learn more from Bistritz and Read everything you need to know about selling to the top.
Lesson 1: The Four Types of Salespeople
According to Bistritz and Read, there are four sorts of salespeople:
Type 1. The Commodity Supplier
Commodity Supplier salespeople perceive the world through a pair of product glasses. They assume that if they only get the opportunity to demonstrate their product or service, the benefits will be enough to close the deal.
They are so focused on their product or service that they ignore the demands of their customers. If a consumer isn't interested, they go on to the next, believing that there are plenty of fish in the sea.
Executives prefer to shun commodity suppliers, delegating them to lower-level employees.
Type 2: Emerging Resource
An Emerging Resource is a tenacious commodities provider who has created a relationship with operations or middle management.
They may have spent a little more time researching the consumer. They will be recognized as a "preferred supplier" due to their efforts. However, the necessity to provide preferential prices or services typically outweighs this.
Type 3: Problem Solver
The Problem Solver is born from a change in focus from internal (a salesperson's products) to external (a customer's problems). They notice and discuss difficulties that aren't directly related to a sale.
Problem solvers are typically more strategic and forward-thinking, allowing them to engage with executives seeking answers.
Type 4: Trusted Advisor
The significance of a personal relationship with the CEO is emphasized by Trusted Advisors. They build the relationship by first getting to know the CEO as a person, then learning about the leader's company goal.
The salesman may turn a meeting with an executive into a bigger opportunity by going beyond the sale and extending a discourse with the CEO.
Lesson 2: Understanding What Executives Want
According to Bistritz and Read, motivating senior executives need a thorough awareness of the company's core business concerns and the business factors that are driving the need for change. Depending on their job and role, these concerns may vary and influence each senior executive in the client organization.
The writers advise us to immerse ourselves in our clients' worlds to help us stand out from the crowd and be regarded as true participants and contributors to their success. So, how do we go about doing that? They offer us four chores to complete.
Task 1. Get into the Game
We need to start becoming rainmakers instead of waiting for clients to come.
"I will maximize my value to my customer executives this year by learning all I can. Things about them, their company, their competitors, and their industries, and bringing them new ideas that they will then pay me to implement. The more I mean to them, the more they will mean to me." says our new slogan.
Remember, selling isn't a spectator sport; the more you mean to them, the more they matter to you.
Task 2. Work Backward
Suppose our mission is to provide value to executives. In that case, we must first anticipate what our clients want to do, then work backward to find ways to assist them in achieving those objectives.
We will unearth helpful facts that individuals in the executive's firm haven't considered if we start with the customer's destination and work backward to the solution. That is really beneficial. It qualifies us as a Trusted Advisor.
Task 3. Adopt a Routine
It is a part of personal responsibility to do consumer research. Nobody will step in and do it for you if you don't set out time each week to sit down and study your consumers. Unless it's your competitors.
Task 4. Ask Lots of Questions
We prepare ourselves to conduct the discussions that a CEO wants to have when we investigate our consumers and understand their hot spots.
Allow the CEO to speak. Recognize their point of view. Then they'll ask, "So, what do you do, and how can you assist me?" at some point in the conversation. Then it's all over!
Lesson 3: What Drives an Executive Decision?
Many elements influence an executive's choice. Both the seller and the buyer must consider each of these considerations. The following are the most significant, according to Bistritz and Read.
Every executive is under financial duress. We'll gain the executive's attention if our solution has a beneficial impact on these economic or industrial drivers.
Executives are concerned with figuring out how to strengthen the internal organization and, as a result, impact the financial return. Examine how you can assist leaders in creating, quality-controlling, selling, and delivering their business plans.
On the selling side of the supply chain, an executive's primary focus is getting the contract, followed by maintaining quality and margins with buyers.
If you're a purchasing executive, you're concerned with supplier reliability, quality, economies of scale, inventory turnover, and storage and distribution technology. What goods or services do you have that address these issues?
Business Partner Drivers
Your clients may be reconsidering their business partner relationships in light of changing business circumstances.
This is a chance to add value by proving that you understand their concerns and providing solutions through your network of people, partners, and affiliates that can help.
Most CEOs place a premium on maintaining and increasing their existing customer base, cultivating and improving loyalty, and offering value. Where, once again, do your goods and services fit in?
Direct competitors are easier to see, while atypical opponents are more difficult to locate. We need to provide something that the executives are seeking for market information. We need to exchange ideas and show them how other firms deal with the same competitors.
Governments, industry regulators, and shareholders call for firms to be more accountable and transparent. Companies must comply with new laws to maintain stability in already-stressed financial markets and safeguard shareholder interests by restoring investor trust. Are you able to assist?
In most sales circumstances, asking questions and conducting research into how these six external variables impact our prospect will identify the people inside the firm who are most affected by those drivers – those with the most to gain or lose, and, more crucially, those who will purchase.
Lesson 4: How to Gain Access to the Executive Level
Getting your first meeting with a top executive is quite simple. The true art is acquiring access to those same executives again. Executives don't waste their time with individuals who don't contribute anything. Here's what Bistritz and Read have to say.
Make friends with the assistant at the office. An executive's assistant listens to his boss on the phone all day, attends many of the same meetings, and is up to date. As a result, wooing the assistant as if they were the executive demonstrates respect for the function they play and frequently unlocks doors that might otherwise remain shut.
Locate the Ideal Executive. Calling on the incorrect CEO not only wastes salespeople's time and resources but also tarnishes their credibility and reduces the likelihood of a future engagement with that executive.
For each sales opportunity, we must find the appropriate executive and spend time learning about the customer's company to determine where influence, power, and control lie.
Shakers & Movers. Look for persons considered to be shakers and movers. They're contenders for becoming the relevant executive if they're seen as adding value, have a solid track record, and are tied to the deal we're hoping to close.
Look for people whose names appear to be connected to many projects and discussions.
Look for folks who show up to meetings and say relatively little but who ask a few insightful questions that go beyond what you've said.
Look for people whose thoughts are respected by others, regardless of their position.
When you hear breaking news, look for folks who don't seem astonished.
Lesson 5: How to Establish Credibility at the Executive Level
Consumers attempt to qualify salespeople the same way you are trying to prepare customers. You must provide value to gain executive credibility.
Executives search for someone who can speak for them within the salesman's organization. They want to know that when the salesperson says they'll do something, they'll do it.
To establish trust, the salesman must be personally responsible and have the clout to persuade others to be responsive.
So, how does one get credibility? It occurs when the salesman exhibits competence and honesty.
We'll know we've acquired credibility, according to Bistritz and Read when the executive:
- Gives us access to confidential information.
- Requests our opinion on matters unrelated to our company's solutions.
- Requests that we attend critical strategic planning or staff meetings, proving that we are a valuable client team member.
Lesson 6: Cultivating Loyalty at the C-Suite
Companies cannot prosper unless they deliver higher value to their consumers than competitors. Measuring customer and staff loyalty can reveal flaws in a company's value offer and aid in treating such imperfections.
We need to find out what is crucial to the executive, according to Bistritz and Read. We may be able to gain a peek into his personal plan due to this. Here's how we can provide value that speaks to both their professional and personal goals:
Step 1. What's on the Web?
Access the most recent yearly reports on the client's website. Look for sites that allow you to compare yourself to rivals in the commercial, financial, and industry sectors.
Quarterly earnings conference calls to financial analysts might provide additional information.
Step 2. Create the Initial Relationship
We should seek strategies to generate a great first encounter to start the connection. This might be our first chance to speak with the client executive on a business level. Therefore we need to show how we work.
Step 3. Continually Expand the Relationship
We should continue to learn more about our client's business and build our ties with more leaders inside their organization to take the partnership to the next level.
Step 4. Form Long-Term Loyalty
A long-term dedication to excellence in all tasks leads to long-term loyalty. When our customer is having difficulty, we should make ourselves available and assistance whenever feasible.
Step 5. Continually Seek Ways to Excel
Ultimately, we should strive to improve our client relationships by taking advantage of every chance to bring value to the client company and, maybe more significantly, to the client.
So there you have it: a strong set of guidelines for driving your business to new heights by successfully managing your C-Suite connections.