7 Simple Tips to Get More From Your C-Suite Meetings
Start getting more out of your meetings and making the ones that really matter, even more productive!
Every C-Suite meeting is unique, and no two executives are alike.
And sometimes you only get one shot at the “King”.
Enterprise sales are non-linear. In even the most complex sale, there are usually a small handful of meetings in the sales process that either advance the ball a long way downfield or stop a deal dead in its tracks. Just like great athletes, the best sales teams know how to perform under pressure.
Here are 7 tips to start making the meetings that really matter more productive:
Don’t waste an executive’s time with a small proposal
You got the meeting – don’t waste it. Small proposals are boring to senior executives. Do your homework, understand their business and go in with serious intent. Aim to fix big business problems with big proposals.
Fall out of love with your product
I don’t care how much you love your company’s product (or service). The more senior the audience, the less they really care about it and the more you need to focus on the client’s business. Drop any reference to features and technical performance – your conversation should be framed around the metrics that matter to the executive and their business – revenue growth, cost reduction, customer satisfaction, market share and risk. Your product is only relevant to the extent that it helps move the needle on these things.
Punch with brevity
Rehearse the opening – the first two minutes of a 20-minute meeting will determine how productive the next 18 minutes will be. Distill an opening that captures attention, establishes a clear agenda and meeting outcome and positions you as an equal. The higher you go, the more important it is to punch with brevity. Implementing a simple, robust pre-call planning process in your sales organization will force you to distill.
If you’ve not met before, invest some time to gain personal credibility first. Executives will be much more open with people they like and respect than with a salesperson who dives in with “tell me your pain points”. A brief personal introduction that indicates your expertise and your ability to add value (without bragging) will lay the foundations for a more productive dialog.
Challenge, don’t coddle
There is nothing more boring to an executive than meeting “just another SPIN seller”. Most executives like to be challenged, and the best meetings are often the ones where the executive actually learns something new and changes their thinking. Do your homework, prepare insights (not just data), and ask challenging trade-off questions that make the executive really stop and think about their priorities.
Don’t forget the personal
Organizations don’t make decisions – people do. Don’t forget that senior executives are just people – just like you, they have career ambitions, they like bigger bonuses, they hate having to work on weekends and they hope to be liked and respected by their team. Value propositions should be directed not just at business benefits, but personal wins.
Gain “permission to roam”
In a complex sale, you generally won’t be signing a contract in these meetings (especially if it’s the first time you’ve met) – you’re often there to gain a conceptual agreement to proceed. After that there will usually be lots of “cat-herding” – navigating legal, procurement and all the other stakeholders that are needed to make a deal come to life. Gaining the executive’s explicit endorsement in the meeting to navigate the other relevant parts of their organization, will get you to a contract much faster.
Stop wasting their time and your time. Small proposals are boring to senior executives.
Fans of “The Wire” will recognize the quote at the top of this article as being from gangster Omar Little, brilliantly played by the wonderful actor Michael K Williams (who sadly passed away in 2021).
It’s not often we take inspiration for a B2B sales performance from the projects of Baltimore, Maryland, but if you take one more piece of advice from Omar, it would be to enjoy yourself. C-Suite meetings can be some of the more interesting and challenging meetings in your sales career. I’m a big fan of a little humor in executive meetings to establish a personal connection quickly, but you be you – do whatever gives you pleasure. With a robust pre-call plan, you’re much more likely to enjoy yourself, and if you’re enjoying the meeting, chances are that the executive is too.
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