CEO-LEVEL SALES CALLS can be intimidating. They certainly aren’t for the faint of heart, but with great risks come great rewards. Starting at the top certainly has its benefits, since CEOs are typically the ultimate decision makers. However, you need to be sure that what you’re selling fulfills a need that’s already on the CEO’s radar, not a product that someone down the line would normally handle. You cannot afford to burn a bridge with a CEO, and wasting time is a fast path to disaster. There are a handful of tried and true strategies for reaching a CEO. Many try to climb the corporate ladder by making contact at a lower level first, and then selling their way up. While that first contact may be more easily achieved using this method, the path upward can be a long one. Others ask a mutual connection to introduce them to the CEO. You might also try attending events you believe the CEO will attend in the hopes of a seemingly accidental meeting. Last, but not least, you can simply cold call. Most sales professionals have better luck reaching CEOs very early or late in the day. When you do reach the CEO, avoid the traditional question-based sales approach momentarily, and focus on quickly piquing his curiosity in order to earn a meeting. If you’re unable to reach the CEO directly, take a straightforward approach with his assistant by simply telling your story. Offer to send a short email explaining why you’re calling, and why it’s important you speak with the CEO. If the executive assistant sees value in what you’re offering, your message will likely reach the CEO’s hands. Once you finally land the coveted meeting with a CEO, it’s time to get your game face on. This isn’t your average sales pitch. What CEOs crave most is to have interesting conversations with smart people who can help them better understand the problems they face and explain how to solve them. What they dread most is a formal, rehearsed sales pitch that focuses on demonstrating knowledge more than facilitating an actual conversation. To have credibility with a CEO, you can’t approach the meeting just as a vendor. You have to be seen as a peer who can solve problems by talking on his level. Identify through questioning the challenges the CEO faces and share real examples, with limited detail, of how you’ve helped other CEOs overcome those same challenges. Address some of the risks the CEO will face if he chooses to work with you, but always focus on the future, since the CEO may be one of the only people within an organization with a long-term vision. Wrap up by summarizing the next steps for generating results within the CEO’s organization, not simply by explaining the next steps in the sales process. A typical CEO thinks on his feet, so don’t be hesitant to ask about his decision in the moment if body language indicates one has been made.
This blog was written by RedRover’s CEO & Founder, Lori Turner-Wilson. Read more about Lori and her unwavering commitment to guaranteed marketing results in her bio.