Selling to the C-Suite isn’t easy. You have to demonstrate the impact that your product will make on their business. Your goal is to show how your product will make or save them money or time compared to the current way they solve the problem your product addresses.
Selling to the C-Suite: What You’re Up Against
There is so much you need to do to convince someone at the C-level to buy your product. C-Level executives typically receive well over 100 email sales pitches every week. The vast majority find their way to the trash bin via the delete key within seconds.
Yet some, a very select few at that, are forwarded to internal decision makers for review. Quite often, the CEO doesn’t make the buying decision alone.
And that means you’ll need a multi-pronged approach to reach the influencers and trusted sources of the CEO, or for that matter anyone else in the C-Suite.
How to Sell to C-Level Executives
I’ve done my share of selling to the C-Suite. And as a 3-time CEO myself, I’ve heard many sales pitches trying to sell me products that could benefit my companies. In fact, I’ve gotten so many that I created an email swipe file of my favorite sales email sequences.
But selling to the C-Suite requires much more than a clever email message. It requires you to create a genuine interest in your brand to help them address a problem they are facing.
Here’s a strategy my team and I used that worked pretty well for selling to C-Suite executives:
- Getting a hold of the CEO to do your sales pitch is often the biggest challenge. You will likely need a broader outreach approach that includes targeted messaging to them and their circle of influence.
- I found one of the most valuable pieces to get a CEO to pay attention was to send them a report on trends in their industry that outlined a very clear path to capture more marketshare.
- More so, I would share this report with the media through press releases or direct press contacts. This way, CEOs and their direct reports would learn about the report through trusted channels.
- Here’s an example of a press release we sent out many years ago my one of my companies, MailerMailer which was acquired in 2017: read the press release. We sent this announcement to individual reporters that covered our space along with a copy of our email marketing metrics report. The result was magical: tons of press coverage that we could refer to in our messaging when selling to the C-Suite and their teams.
- We put a price tag on the report but gave away limited copies for free to highly targeted prospects. For example, we would create a 30-page detailed report on the state of the industry and put a $995 price tag on it. We would then allow our reps to give away free copies to 5 hot prospects a month (we would also allow more if the prospect was qualified). This enabled our team to share market research, which every CEO wants to read.
The report was the door opener. The sales pitch to sell to C-Suite executives was centered around discovery so we could create an ROI to show the benefits our products would provide.
Irresistible Marketing to C-Suite Executives
Selling to the C-Suite starts with marketing to C-Level executives and their teams. When they have heard of your brand before you reach out, you increase the chances they will accept your request for a meeting.
The trends reports that we would generate created industry buzz and generate in-bound leads as well. Every single C-Suite executive looks at industry trends to see how their business will be impacted. These reports help executives make strategic decisions.
We gathered the data we had on our customers as well as other sources to create unique reports that no other company had. When we publicized these reports, selling to the C-Suite become significantly easier because we were able to share our unique insights and how these trends will affect their business.
Examples of reports we created from my prior companies for selling to the C-Suite:
- Email marketing software company sent 1.5 billion emails per year for our clients. We tabulated the data and created an email marketing metrics report that showed the best days and times to send emails, average open/click rates by industry, and much more. We shared the data with the Direct Marketing Association which published some of our charts in their annual Fact Book. This resulted in getting calls from brand name companies who wanted to learn more.
- Government contract data company provided access to bidding opportunities and contracts coming up for renewal. We allowed limited free access that teased the value of the full database. The reports drew thousands of qualified leads very quickly and we were able to grow the business from 0 to 100,000 users in 4 years.
- Wealth data company provided estimated net worth, giving capacity, and a lot of related data on the U.S. population. We created reports on Millennial Wealth Trends, Market Potential by Major Metro, and many others. These reports attracted so much attention that we were featured in major publications and even CBS Morning News.
What If I Don’t Have Any Data to Create a Report?
Don’t sweat. You can compile data from other reports to create your own. Be sure to list the source of the original data. This can be really useful if you sell services.
For example, if you sell marketing services that include an email marketing component, you can gather the latest metrics reports from the likes of MailChimp, Aweber, Campaign Monitor, Active Campaign, Keap, and other email marketing products.
Before you publish your report, contact these companies to get permission to use a few charts from their reports so that you do so without violating their copyright.
Then, you can promote your report as a collection of the most significant trends in email marketing. Add your own analysis to show what this means to the target market you are looking to reach, i.e., your ideal client profile.
Since selling to the C-Suite involves showing ROI on how your product will make or save them money (or time), you can also incorporate other companies’ data into reports like these:
- What Managed Services Typically Cost In the Greater Chicago Area
- Maximizing Profitability: A Comprehensive Analysis of Cost-Reducing Measures
- Building a Stronger Brand: A Case Study of Successful Marketing Strategies
- Navigating Uncertain Times: A Risk Management Plan for the Next Quarter
- Streamlining Operations: Opportunities for Increased Efficiency and Productivity
The list can go on. Just get creative in terms of offering value that doesn’t focus on talking about your product. Talk about their problems and what’s happening in the industry that will affect their business.
Then, you can show how your product helps them address the issues they encounter.
Use the Thud Factor to Get a C-Suite Meeting
By creating a trends report of slides that you can print out in 30 or more pages, you have an opportunity to use what I call the “thud” factor. It’s one of my favorite techniques for selling to the C-Suite.
Take a stack of paper, bind it like a report, and drop it onto your desk.
It makes a “thud” sound.
That means it carries weight, physically, but more so when you have useful content, it carries weight metaphorically, too. And that’s what opens doors.
When you send your report through overnight mail to an executive, they will open it for sure. The fact that it is a heavy detailed report will likely get them to at least scan through it if not read it in detail and share the trends with their team.
In your package, write a simple note like this:
“Dave, the insights highlighted in this report will impact your business this year. I can show you more detail on ways to capitalize on these trends, adding $250,000 per rep to your top line revenue. Enjoy the report, complements of <your company name>.” Include your name, email and phone.
How to Make Your Company Look Bigger
As a society, we put a lot of faith into Google and what they deem to be the top websites for a particular search term. Their data shows that about 30% of all searchers click on the first result after doing a keyword search, 15% on the second, and about 8% on the third.
Although the number of clicks goes down from there, if you can make your way to page 1 of Google’s Search Engine Results Page (a.k.a. SERP), you and your sales team can point this out during a meeting, email or call with a prospect.
Picture a dialog for your products and services:
“Visit Google and type in the term ‘best seo coach’. You can see we’re listed in the top 5.”
Your high Google rank for relevant terms serves as a way to validate your authority on the topic. It enhances your credibility.
This means that if you can get ranked well on a terms that relates to your product or service, or even for your industry trends report, you can leverage your ranking to get a meeting. The fact that you’re a top ranked result carries weight, like the thud of a long report.
The best part of this technique in selling to the C-Suite is that getting a top ranking on Google for terms related to your business is not rocket science, and it’s actually not that hard.
Our SEO Coaching can help. Imagine if you knew SEO. Instead of hiring an agency that charges by the keyword, you could add an unlimited number of keywords to your marketing outreach and drive qualified leads that accelerate sales. And selling to the C-Suite become easier.
Contact us today for a free consultation and a detailed SEO coaching proposal that will help you sell to the C-Suite.
Book the C-Suite Meeting
Your product and overall offer will have an impact on your ability to secure meetings. Selling to the C-Suite is possible when you leverage marketing resources.
When prospects see the value you bring to their business, how well your brand looks in public, and how easy your product is to integrate into their existing workflow, you stand a chance at closing meetings – and deals – with CEOs.
Author: Raj Khera is an Executive Business Coach, a former 3x CEO, and publisher of MoreBusiness.com