How do you prepare for a meeting with a C-Level executive?
If you are like most people, you look at their LinkedIn profile.
Then you Google them and look at anything else that comes up—an interview, a blog post, a recent speech, etc.
If you’re lucky, Google leads you to a recent piece of content in which the executive’s strategy and priorities are served up on a digital silver platter—because knowing these things is essential going into a C-Level meeting.
More often than not however, Google does not lead you to this information.
We have written in the past about the dangers of relying on LinkedIn profiles for sales call prep. When it comes to researching executives, Google—and other search engines--also have their limitations. The most common pitfall is that there is nothing out there on the executive you are targeting beyond some basic biographical information. So, the search ends there and you go on to your meeting, blissfully unaware of all of the important stuff that you should know, but don’t.
A few minutes into the meeting it becomes painfully obvious that you haven’t done enough homework.
One customer recalls a CIO barking at his sales team, “This is publicly available information. Go find it!”
So…What Do You Need to Know?
In these cases, sales reps need to do more digging—and know where to dig—to unearth essential insight like:
- The executive’s functional responsibilities
- The company’s overall strategy, initiatives and challenges
- How the executive supports the company’s strategy and initiatives
- What the CEO is saying about the executive’s area of focus (e.g., marketing, sales, technology)
- What analysts and business journalists are reporting about the company
- How the company and the executive measure success
The most intrepid sales reps know how to find this information--even when it does not exist in the words of the executive they are targeting. This also happens to be what we do at Boardroom Insiders, and we are always willing to share some of our proven search techniques and resources.
Nearly all of the insight we gather on executives comes from two places:
- Search Engines: When using search engines, try different search terms, beyond the person’s name. We use keywords from the person’s title. For example, if someone is the EVP of Business Transformation for ACME Company, try searching “Acme Company” and “business transformation”. You might find an interview with someone else in the company talking about their business transformation strategy and initiatives, which should give you some relevant talking points for your meeting. Likewise, be sure and search “Acme Company strategy” to see if you can get some basic information about what the company is focused on overall.
- Earnings Call Transcripts: A must-do for all public companies is to read the latest earnings call transcript, including the analyst Q&A. These transcripts are usually brimming over with valuable nuggets of information about where the company is headed and what it is focused on in the near term. Time-saving pro tip: Search the transcript for terms that are relevant to the executive you are targeting. For example, if you are prepping for a meeting with a Chief Marketing Officer, search the transcript for “marketing” “digital” “advertising” “media”, etc. It is also important to use your business acumen to connect the dots between what the CEO is saying and the executive you are targeting. For example, if the CEO says that one of the company’s major initiatives is to “drive same store traffic,” ask yourself if the CMO would play a role in supporting that initiative. (The answer is “yes”).
Relying solely on Google and LinkedIn seldom delivers the level of insight you need for a C-Level meeting. Use the aforementioned tips to dig deeper. If you can uncover and leverage a nugget of information that your competitor is too lazy to find, you’ll gain a valuable edge that could win you the deal.