Thursday, July 5, 2012

10 Keys to the C-Suite

Working with the C-Suite can be intimidating at the least for many sales professionals. They are important, they are untouchable, they are too busy, they are speaking in a different language, they are..., they are..., they are..... Well, they are human. And the C-Suite is just like you and me...except they make a lot more money than us. That aside, here are 10 tips to communicating with the C-Suite.
  • Create a Value Inventory - A Value Inventory will help instil confidence in your products and service. It is an effort that pays off time and time again. In addition to your new found confidence, it is the foundation for developing all sales tools.
  • Use your Value Inventory to tie value to the C-Suite metrics - The C-Suite metrics are ratios that your products and services impact. For example, if your product reduces labor cost, you actually impact operating costs and profit. These are the ratio's the C-Suite cares about.
  • Do your homework before you call on the C-Suite - I cannot impress upon you enough as to the importance of doing your homework prior to a meeting in the C-Suite. They expect you to know their business. You should check LinkedIn for any relationships you have they may know who you are meeting. Do your homework or parish.
  • Create a Value hypothesis and estimate your value as it relates to the impact on the C-Suite metrics before the deal, “hits the market” - This document will establish a basis for your meeting. You can present the potential value you will deliver in their terms using basically a Business Case at the beginning of the sales process.
  • Develop discovery questions that lead your prospect back to your value proposition - Don't waste their time. Have discovery questions written down and ready to discuss. Be sure they are relevant, and challenging. Don't ask a question just to ask a questions.
  • Capture “current” cost and extrapolate that cost over time to set up a discussion on threshold for pain - People respond to pain. If you get agreement from your prospect as to what their problems and goals are and what the current cost of those issues, pains and goals, half the battle is over. Acknowledgement of pain and the ability to capture the cost will push a deal forward faster than any other thing.
  • Discuss threshold for pain and agree on a plan to move forward - All too often you lose to status quo. Why? Because of your failure to understand the prospects threshold for pain. Even if you get them to acknowledge they have issues, and you calculate the cost of those issues...the pain and the cost may be acceptable by the prospect. In other words, they don't care what it is costing them right now.
  • Constantly provide feedback to your prospect on your findings and analysis as it relates to their pain, cost of pain, and market comparison - We (sales people) have been taught our whole life to correspond with the prospect after we meet. This should be done every time you touch them, send a note of thanks and a short description of what you discussed.
  • Create a high quality Business Case that includes, issue, pain, goal, value, impact and investment - remember the C-Suite has very little time, a Business Case should be concise and complete with the issues, value estimates, costs, metrics and plenty of graphics the will help explain economic impact.
  • Provide comprehensive implementation plan that includes follow up on value delivered - A 360 approach will almost always pay off. You are now a partner not a vendor.
     Collateral borrowed from Michael Nick at 

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