You learned in your executive sales training program that it is critical to be fully prepared when you are selling to executives. You need to know their business inside and out. You need to bring value in the way of expertise and insight to each meeting. You need to help them succeed. But here are a few additional tips that can make the difference between success and failure in selling at the C-level.
- Continue to qualify the opportunity and the value.Certainly you asked the pertinent questions at the beginning of the sales process to determine if the opportunity was worth pursuing. But don’t stop there. Keep on asking the right and hard questions to make sure that you can help your executive buyer to succeed. Change occurs often and fast. Be sure the opportunity is still worth your while, that you can still effectively compete, and that you still have a reasonable chance of winning.
- Make sure you have enough executive support.The trick here is to be sure you have more than a nod but that you have real commitment to your proposal at the highest level. Too many deals have been lost simply because an executive overrode the recommendations of lower-level managers and made their own choice. The other trick is to be sure you have the support of the relevant executive. Often the key stakeholder is not the CEO but a senior manager who has the most to lose or gain with the decision to buy from you.
- Make your value visible.As you develop relationships throughout the client organization, make sure that the value you bring is visible and appreciated at all the right levels. Unless you show and communicate your value, executives may be entirely unaware of “what you do and know” that can help their business to succeed compared to the competition. This is how you can differentiate yourself and your organization.
- Mitigate the risks to your executive customer.Executives always balance risks and rewards in any decision they make. It is up to you to understand their perspective and do what you can to demonstrate how investing in your specific solution presents less risk than the risk of not buying and implementing it.
- Link your solution directly to a business result the executive cares most about.This is your value proposition. How will your solution affect a business outcome that greatly matters to your customer? First you must understand the goals and objectives of your client. Only then can you define the business value of your solution in the client’s terms.
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