The C-Suite Mindset
This week’s blog has been written by Paul O’Donell, Managing Director at Natural Training
For almost all sales people, an invitation to meet with the C-Suite of an existing or new customer is a great opportunity to get straight to the decision-makers. So how can you make that happen?
Adapt your mind-set
To be successful in selling at this level, you must be prepared to adapt your mindset and behaviour to fit. Everyone knows that ‘people buy from people’, but there’s more to it than that.
People buy from people they consider to be like them. It only needs to be something small for someone to associate a ‘likeness’ that will enable you to create a buying environment. So how do you do that?
Of course, you don’t yet know what you can show a person to achieve this alignment, so you must be prepared. You need to consider the people in the C-suite – what type of characters do they tend to be?
Are they quite driven, needing short, sharp responses, with high levels of data? Or are they more laid back and like to discuss the current economic climate and the impact Brexit will have on the pound in the next 3-5 years?
Will they want to discuss the entire history of their business with you and the key achievements they have made? Or are they more likely to want to get straight to the point?
What about their personalities, what are they like as people? What would they do on the weekends and what kind of restaurants would they tend to eat at? Where would they go on holiday, what kind of sports would they like? And how do you find out this information?
How old are the CxOs you want to talk to? Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers think and act differently. Where are they in their careers? The average tenure for a CEO is 6-7 years and slightly less for other CxOs at 4-5 years. Are they new into the role, wanting to make their mark; mid-way through with a reputation to maintain; or looking for the next move and thinking about the legacy they want to leave behind?
Giving some thought to the sort of person that you’re dealing with can pay huge dividends when you begin to align with them.
Consider their working day
What time do you think they start their working day? 9am? I doubt it, CxO Executives start their days pretty early, perhaps an early commute, a visit to the gym, or maybe a couple of hours planning and preparing before breakfast.
If you want to have influence in the C-Suite, you too should think in this way. So if you are trying to get a meeting with a CxO, why not offer a 7:30 am breakfast meeting? Consider the venue – where would they want to eat, close to their office? Or ask if they are going on to another meeting and hold yours nearby.
Break the ice
When you get through the gatekeeper and have the CxO’s attention, how would you break the ice to show them that you are like them?
Perhaps start with something topical. CxOs tend to be well read, they will be watching what is happening in the news. What is currently a hot topic in the media? Research a business, political and sports story, that is not too controversial, and be ready to make an intelligent observation about it.
What is happening in their industry that you can discuss with them? The company’s website and annual reports can give you valuable information about what their business priorities are, but they don’t tell the whole story. Look for news articles that may shed some light on some of the troubles that the company might have run into recently, such as legal problems, takeover threats or a declining share price. You can bet that CxOs will be taking action to address such issues.
Many CxO roles have changed over the last 2-3 years. For example, the CTO’s role has become much more strategic in how the business operates. Consider this and think through how you can discuss these new challenges with the CTO.
There’s so much more to cover about influencing C-Suite Executives, but if you consider these few tips before you make contact, your chances of success will be very much increased.
1. Understand the psychology of the C-Suite. CxOs are people, and like all people, they buy from people with whom they feel aligned.
2. Consider how you can align your working patterns to match theirs.
3. Increase your personal brand, to think more like a CxO yourself.
In my next couple of posts, I’ll be explaining the Strategy to adopt when influencing the C-Suite, and how to demonstrate Value in language that resonates with CxOs.
What successes or failures have you had in selling to a higher level? Post a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.
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