Many people struggle with how to get meetings with the C suite. They do not understand why they are constantly being pushed down in the organization. It may be as simple as this: you get relegated to who you sound like. So, just change the conversation.
If you are talking about your features and functions of your products and services, then you will be relegated to those who care about features and functions. Do you do this, or do you do that. Does your product include this, or not include that.
If you are introducing yourself and your products, then it is all about you and you will be relegated to anyone but the C suite. It will show that you do not value their time and that it’s all about you. Why should they take your call or schedule a meeting if you are going to pitch them without any previous research?
However, if you want to get meetings with the C suite, then it will take a bit more research, knowledge and positioning. Executives care about business outcomes and how different products and services can help them to accomplish whatever it is they need to accomplish. Executives tend to have multiple priorities, and your job as sales people is to be able to talk in their channel or language to better understand what they are trying to do and why, what their top priorities are, and what are their perceived risks.
Many times, I have told the story about myself as I moved up in the sales organization. In my early days of sales when I was a sales rep, I would bring my management in to meet with executives since I did not have the business acumen to have those types of conversations. Then I moved up the organization, from sales person to sales manager, to sales executive and sales leader. What changed along with my title was my understanding of what each of the different executives wanted to discuss. Now that I was running a business, I understood that achieving my goals and business outcomes were my keys to success. So, it fell right in line that I now was being brought into meetings with my sales team to talk to executives since I could have a conversation that was meaningful to them.
Try it with those that you talk to often and see how it changes the conversation. Instead of talking about requests for information and proofs of concept, try to talking to them about their business to better understand what will make them successful and where their priorities are. And, be careful that they may be trained – by YOU – to only talk in the channel you have been talking about – the one that is specific to your products and services.
Get them to expand the context and talk more about what they are looking to accomplish both inside and outside your realm, so you can see the whole picture through their lens and be able to better understand the business results they are trying to achieve. Get meetings with the C suite by simply talking about things that executives care about. And, I can guarantee, it will not be about your products and services.
Janice Mars, principal and founder of SalesLatitude, is a senior business and sales executive with more than 30 years of experience helping companies build successful sales teams. She has parlayed that experience to help her clients to improve their sales processes, accurately forecast revenues, ensure focus on winnable opportunities, and attain consistent results. View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter