Sunday, August 21, 2016

How to Establish Credibility When Selling to Executives

an org chart combined with a game plan

To sell effectively at the executive level you need to become as knowledgeable as you can about your C-suite prospects…what they care about, where they fit in the company, who they listen to, etc. This is the only way you can put together an executive selling game plan that can work.

The great advantage of selling direct to executives is that you have reached the decision maker and are likely to close the sale faster than having to make your way through the ranks. But the great challenge for most salespeople is that they have not learned that, in order to be successful, they need to adopt a different selling strategy from the one they use with lower level customers. Executive selling training helps you understand how to capture executives’ attention, establish credibility, and ultimately move them toward a sale.
  1. Ensure Your Brand and Content is at the Right Level
    Make sure that your company has a professional-looking web site that conveys executive-level solutions to executive-level problems.  That includes all the social media channels like LinkedIn and Facebook for both you and your company.  According to salesforce.com, 64% of executives use LinkedIn and 55% use Facebook to keep connected and informed.  If your personal brand or corporate messaging does not resonate with the C-Suite, your chances of changing an executive’s online impression of you and your firm are low.
  2. Learn all you can.
    Once your personal and professional brands are in alignment with your executive buyers, then do research on your target companies. Learn as much as you can about the industry, the marketplace, the organization, and their challenges. Use every investigative tool at your disposal…the internet, financial records, annual reports, letter from the CEO, and, of course, your network. You need to develop a working knowledge of the challenges at the company and a compelling plan for how you can help them succeed. If you have contacts there, get the scoop from insiders. And certainly, if you have internal supporters, ask for a referral. A warm introduction from the right person can give you almost instant credibility. 
  3. Be ready to make your case.
    Gather the right data. Most executives are impressed by meaningful insights and compelling data. They want to know what your solution can bring them in terms of measurable business results compared to the alternatives at their disposal.  And most executives during the sales process like to know the actual numbers behind how you have helped other companies in similar situations.
  4. Prepare and practice your pitch.
    Design your executive sales presentation to begin at the end. Use your punch line up front. Executives don’t want to waste time in a “warm-up.” They want the bottom line first. Then if they are interested, answer their questions with more detail. And make sure you focus on the value of your solution with regard to what matters most to them and their business…how it will spur growth, or save money, or open new markets. Then practice your spiel so you can present with confidence and as concisely as possible.
When you are fortunate enough to sit across from an executive, be smart about planning an approach that works.



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