“The only vendors I take the time to meet with are those that have shown they have done their homework and understand me and my business.”
- Fortune 1000 CIO and annual Gartner ITxpo Attendee
Gartner ITxpo. Oracle OpenWorld. VMworld. Dreamforce. Some of the most important tech conferences of the year are just around the corner. If you’re like most technology vendors, you’re hoping to score some face time with some of your most important executive-level customers.
But here’s the problem. You’re not alone. Every vendor wants the chance to schmooze with the people who hold the purse strings. And that three-day conference, which seems to offer a good amount of time to work a 15 minute meeting? Well, while you may be there for the entire conference, your customer might be zipping in to deliver a speech and taking off right after. Or their schedule might already be packed with meetings.
Scoring meetings with senior executives requires that you prove to them—well in advance—that you are worthy of their time. Here are some things you can do to increase the chances of winning their attention.
Reach Out Way in Advance
Reach out in advance, at least four to six weeks (yes, this is why this post is being published in early summer). Try to get to them before their calendars are filled.
Find Their Focus
Turn their words into a compelling reason to give you their time. Study up on what they and their company are focused on. Examine earnings calls for relevant comments, along with articles and interviews, their own blog posts, and social media.
For example, in March 2017 AT&T CFO John Stephens said, “we need to continue to do two things. One on the product side continue to innovate with our bundling and bringing our unique assets together to the benefit of customers; and then two, continue our focus on modernization of our company for cost savings initiatives whether that’s soft verification of our network, whether that is virtualizing our network functions or just streamlining our customer and operational issues.”
If your company sells products and services that could help support Stephens’ initiatives as described above, his own words could give you an in—either with him or with one of his many executive-level reports. It’s up to you to create a winning pitch that demonstrates you know what AT&T needs and how you can help—and that you’ll be in the same place at the same time, so wouldn’t it make sense to meet and talk?
Leverage Your Own C-Level Executives
This is critical and often makes the difference between getting a meeting and being ignored. If one of your C-Level executives is attending, have them reach out directly to their peer to propose a meeting. Getting an invitation from someone high up in your organization will better capture a C-Level decision makers attention than someone on the account team or in sales. Just be sure you also follow the step above and brief your own executive so he or she can make that well-informed, compelling pitch.
Create Your Own VIP Event
Again, customer insight is necessary to learn what target the C-Level executives might find appealing, even irresistible. Maybe it’s a golf or charity event. Maybe it’s a wine tasting or multi-course dinner. Secure participation and buy in from your own C-Level executivess to support peer-to-peer networking, which the C-Suite consistently say is their number one priority when attending attend events. And best case, have the invitations come from your own C-Level executive(s).
With enough time, solid customer insight, and a relevant pitch that speaks to what they care about, you may just find that executives are willing to carve out some time for you at a big event.
Now go out and get those meetings lined up!