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Selling At The C-Level: 3 Ways To Avoid Getting Thrown Out

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As the decision-making landscape continues to shift, the ability to enter an account as high as possible and operate comfortably when selling at the C-level is becoming more and more important.  Many buying decisions that were once made at the user and implementation levels are now owned by decision-makers at the top of the corporate food chain.

Consequently, the ability to sell comfortably at the c-level and v-level will increasingly separate price-cutting order-takers from high-margin value-bringers.

So.  Do you want to make sure your salespeople don't get thrown out when selling at the C-level?  You can start by sharing these 3 tips with them.

3 Tips For Selling At The C-Level

  1. Don't ask questions at the tactical or product level. Senior-level execs will quickly and shrewdly make the judgment about whether a salesperson can bring genuine value to an interaction.  In most cases, they've sat through way too many product demos, feature dumps and "closing" sessions over their career to sit patiently through another meeting of that nature.

Tip: Your salespeople need to be asking thought-provoking, strategic questions around the business impact of making a decision to invest in a product or service they're offering.  Selling at the C-level is all about being positioned as a strategic advisor, not as a product salesperson.  Their prospects frankly don't care about the tech specs or features of your product or service.

Additionally, urge your salespeople to stay up-to-date on industry trends and other "happenings" inside of their prospects' industries and look for ways to build value with that knowledge...even if that value doesn't directly relate to their product or service.

  1. Always remember that their prospects can get as much information about your products, services, company - and even about the salesperson themselves  (including their drunken pictures from Cabo, by the way...) - quickly and easily on the Internet.

This is important:

According to a study conducted by Forrester Research, B2B buyers in today's marketplace can be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through the buying process before they reach out to the vendor.  You can check out the study here.

This has 2 implications for your team.

One, when selling at the C-Level, they'd better figure out fast how to bring more value to the interaction than the decision-maker can find on his or her own, because they can bet that the buyer has done their research.

Two, when selling at the C-level, they'd better make sure they have a flexible sales process that allows them to meet the buyer exactly where he or she is in the buying process.  Without the ability to quickly and easily align with the C-level buyer, they'll be seen as a time-waster and quickly be thrown out.

  1. Salespeople who are successful selling to the C-level must see themselves on an equal plane with executives.

This may be overly simplistic, but it's BIG.

It all starts with mindset. If anyone on your team charged with selling at the C-level can't truly visualize themselves as being worthy enough to interact with decision-makers at the top, then they're not going to. Period. On the other hand, if the salespeople charged with selling at the C-level believe they're executive material themselves, can bring business value and will be seen as strategic advisors, then they'll in a much better position to find success selling at the C-level.