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3 Reasons the C-Suite Doesn't Want to Meet With You

Sharon Gillenwater
by Sharon Gillenwater on Mar 3, 2015 4:07:00 AM

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The old way of selling is dead. People don’t want to be sold to anymore and they don’t want to waste time with uninformed salespeople. C-suite executives have numerous ways to screen out salespeople with nothing relevant to say, so winning a few moments of their valuable time is harder than ever. Here are three of the most common reasons salespeople fail to secure a meeting with C-suite executives:

Trying to Be Their Friend, Not Their Partner

Executives are not looking for a friend, not when it comes to making decisions that affect the bottom line. They want you to solve their business problems--including problems they aren’t even aware of yet. While it’s important to establish good rapport with prospects, the most important things you can offer are  solutions and ideas that will help them overcome their challenges. This requires that you understand the challenges inherent to their business and that you can anticipate and articulate problems they haven’t yet realized. CXOs are looking for trusted advisors and they typically do not find this in a salesperson. But a savvy salesperson can become a trusted advisor by consistently delivering value through problem solving and creative thinking. Don’t come looking to bend the ear of a C-suite executive unless you have immediate answers to problems you know they have, otherwise you’ll never make it past the gatekeeper.

Trying to Solve a Problem They Don't Have

You may know your company’s product or service inside and out, and all the glorious ways it can solve a number of business problems, but that doesn’t mean the company you’re calling on struggles with the problems your company can solve. Do your research before reaching out. Without accurate knowledge of your prospect’s specific needs and challenges, you may be blindly throwing darts at a target just hoping one of them will stick. Aside from coming across uninformed and salesy, you could also be wasting their valuable time, and yours, by chasing after leads that will never result in a sale. As President Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Do yourself a favor, and do your homework so you understand your prospect before reaching out.

You've Skipped Over a Key Contact in Their Organization

With many C-level executives, you only get one chance to gain their attention, so you have to make it count and make sure you’re talking to the right person at the right time. Most C-suite leaders rely on an executive assistant or other key lieutenant to carefully screen and recommend business solutions like the one your company provides. Others rely on the experts within their IT or marketing departments to evaluate and recommend investments. CXOs are surrounded by experts on whom they rely on to help them make the right business decisions. Make an effort to uncover and understand these key influencers; getting them on your side can help smooth your way into the C-suite as well as give you critical insight that will help you have a more successful meeting.

When armed with the proper research and information, your chances of gaining an audience with your C-suite prospects increases dramatically, as does your closing probability. Once you gain an audience, now all you have to do is nail the first five minutes of the conversation.

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Sharon Gillenwater
Written by Sharon Gillenwater
Sharon Gillenwater is the founder and editor-in-chief of Boardroom Insiders, which maintains an extensive database of the most in-depth executive profiles on the market, from Fortune 500 companies to independent non-profits, to help sales and marketing professionals build deeper relationships and close more deals with clients. Gillenwater is a long-time marketing consultant with expertise in marketing strategy, account-based marketing, and CXO engagement programs.
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