49% of sellers said that ‘getting into the executive level’ is one of their top 3 challenges (source: The Whale Hunters 2016 survey)
Question: What are the ‘Windows of opportunity’ as they relate to calling on the C-suite?
Answer: For your TOP Line Accounts™ (i.e. largest prospect or most important customers worth at least 5x your average customer or deal size), once the win celebration is over, the focus on expansion should begin. There’s a window of opportunity right after contract signature and implementation where a lot can get accomplished. Many people miss this brief but critical opening.
Executives are interested in the very beginning stages of a project (i.e. deciding if the project will move their company agenda forward) and the end stages where they are assessing their return on investment. If you haven’t accessed the executive on the front end, don’t miss the window of opportunity on the back end of the sales process.
For example, C-Suite executives want to ensure an ROI on any big investment and will be very receptive to meeting you. This allows them a chance to learn about the planned impact of your product or service, and how they can receive timely reports on progress. Accessing a key executive is an important component of setting yourself up for future business. Seizing this window of receptivity post-contract is a smart move.
Question: What are the best methods for securing an appointment with a top leader?
Answer: The very best way, whether it is an existing customer or a prospect, is to ask your day-to-day contact within the organization. This step should occur early in your sales process.
Many people think that the risk associated with talking with your day-to-day contact about approaching their executives is too large. For example, will your contact discourage your efforts, putting you in an awkward position to move forward?
If you are confident in yourself and can explain the benefits to your day-to-day contact, then they will become an ally. Some of the benefits to your current contact can include:
- Endorsement and forward movement of their important project(s)
- Access to company resources who can help them achieve their goals
- Career enhancement opportunities through exposure
- Recognition of their efforts, accomplishments and successes
A top leader will generally set aside their precious time if the request comes from inside their organization, in other words someone they know and trust.
Note: During your meeting with the C-suite, be sure to say something nice about your contact who endorsed you and paved the way!
Question: How do you advise your clients to prepare for TOP Line Account™ sales calls?
Answer: Collaborating on important calls is the one element that my clients tell me they appreciate most about our coaching sessions. If they have an upcoming sales call with a TOP Line Account™ opportunity, we go through a formal pre-call planning process. There are tons of benefits that come with pre-call planning. For instance, your call effectiveness will increase exponentially.
Each call is unique and by thinking through every aspect of the call in a collaborative manner, something important, if not critical, always comes to the surface.
When you’re prepared, you’re confident and free to listen. (Two ears, one mouth)
Steps for a typical pre-calling planning discussion:
- Think about the company based on insights from your research. (Think big picture and small picture.)
- Where is the customer in their buying process? (Does this match with your sales process?)
- What does the customer want to accomplish during the meeting?
- What do you want to accomplish during the meeting?
- Analyze each customer attendee to determine best approach for the meeting. Are they a supporter of you and your company, neutral, a threat or you’re not sure? What is their personality style? What about their decision making role and influence within the organization?
- What are the best ‘possible’ next steps? (Develop 2-3 options.)
- What could go wrong? (Develop pro-active and re-active contingency plans.)
- Build an agenda based on all the above pre-work. Collaboration on the agenda with your customer is always positive and productive.
- De-brief the meeting after the fact and capture all next steps and action items.
Your reward for getting the answers right? You will ‘Ring the bell’ more frequently with really big TOP Line Account™ ‘wins.
The Perfect Book for your Upcoming Sales Kick-Off:
Invest in your executive selling efforts by giving your sellers the book that is guaranteed to enhance their sales performance. The TOP Seller Advantage: Powerful Strategies to Build Long-Term Executive Relationships includes proven strategies to ensure sellers develop long lasting executive access.
The C-suite executive perspectives at the end of each chapter reveal exactly how senior leaders view sales encounters and what would cause them to keep the door open for follow up meetings.
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