What does selling to the ‘C’ level really mean?

Many Salespeople and their leaders claim to sell high and never drop below decision maker level. That is rarely the case. Selling at the ‘C’ level doesn’t mean undertaking the entire sales process there. In reality 20% represents a fair maximum, but holding these relationships gives licence to sell at operational and influencer levels. In sum, leveraging ‘C’ level contacts throughout the sales cycle will result in improved close ratios, bigger sales and a higher sales number being achieved.


How to sell to C Levelc level

To be a successful Sales VP, Sales Manager or Sales Exec you have to adapt your approach. When you start selling to CEO’s, CIO’s or CFO’s the rules change; no longer can you drone on about how great your product is, now you have to understand their industry, their company and their motivation.

Making a generic approach to a ‘C’ level executive simply focused on your product or service puts you in the same bracket as the thousands of other Sales Execs going through the motions of selling to the ‘C’ suite and ending up at middle management. Propagating real success through commencing the sales process at ‘C’ level takes time, patience and skill.

First, the time you take researching your prospective customers – and what makes them and their organizations tick – will be reflected in your success. Being unprepared will put you on the back foot and doesn’t reflect your need to make the sales at all costs (a situation most sales people find themselves in). Undertaking effective research enables you to put the ‘C’ level Executive first, the relationship with their organization second, the sale third and your own importance last.

To be successful in the C-suite, you must learn about its inhabitant’s world, their needs and how they think. Mentally prepare for the big game at the C-level:

  • Put yourself on their level
  • Prepare thoroughly and create an approach that is relevant to them and unique: demonstrate your understanding of their world
  • Make a connection and have them want to start a business relationship with you
  • Set the agenda and have them agree to it. By doing this you can always revert to the objectives when others involved in the process try to derail you
  • Listen to what they are telling you and utilize the intelligence as you move through the process
  • Answer their questions succinctly and pre-empt what you know is going to come your way
  • Keep them informed on progress with the members of their team and on any changed objections or expectations
  • Stay informed on changes within their organization and events in their sector which may affect your sales process

Why is the CXO different?

  • The CXO sees the big picture – make sure you focus on the big goal. They are interested in strategy, productivity, efficiency and, above all, growing the top line and profit
  • Time & Resource constrained – The CXO’s personal time and resources are limited. You must be clear in articulating the real problem and how you solve it
  • Come with facts – CXO’s are always searching for accurate information and data to assist in their decision making. You must provide concise and factual answers to substantiate the solution
  • Search for the truth – Rarely do CXO’s deal with people who are prepared to tell them the truth: suppliers and subordinates just don’t want to deliver it. Become a trusted advisor and someone they can rely. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ or deliver bad news
  • Decision Making – CXO’s make difficult decisions on complex issues; it’s their job and they are used to it. The CXO looks to a sales person to make decisions easy and that are right for the entire organization

The Operatix sales team have successful experience in selling to C-Level customers for our clients, so if you are looking to outsource to an external team, talk to us today. In the mean time, read this particular case study with proven results in this field. 

Posted March 23, 2017

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