A B2B Sales Rep’s Guide to Selling to the C-Level

Have you ever tried to set up a meeting with a senior-level contact? 

If so, you know how tough it can be to connect with busy executives,

To add insult to injury, executive-level assistants are trained to be gatekeepers. They are paid to protect the C-level from unnecessary interruptions— meaning, if you don’t reach your intended target directly, your message might never make it to them.

But what is the key to c-suite sales? With employees that are seemingly un-contactable, how do you get around all of the obstacles in order to get to the prize at the end of the game? 

Who Is The C-Suite?

First off, who is this elusive group of people we’re talking about? 

The C-suite typically refers to the executive-level managers within a company. Think Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), etc. 

Basically, the C-suite is made up of the people who keep the company’s strategies and operations aligned with their mission and established policies. They are also the ones who hold most of the decision-making and buying power at a company.

How to Sell to the C-Suite

Selling to the C-suite can seem intimidating. They are powerful people with packed schedules. So if you get the chance to meet with one of them, you need to make your pitch about as perfect as it can be. 

No pressure, though (as long as you abide by the following steps). 

1. Use the SNAP Method.

One of the key issues facing sales reps is their ability to get in touch with one of the elusive C-suite members. Thankfully, B2B sales expert Jill Konrath has solved this problem in her book SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers. 

SNAP—a B2B sales framework aimed at selling to the modern buyer—is a loose acronym explained below:

S– Keep it simple. Every step of the buying process should be easy. If the decision-making and adoption processes are simple, you’ll be more successful.

N– Be invaluable. Today’s buyers are overwhelmed with similar products and services. As a B2B salesperson, it’s your job to highlight the unique value of what you’re selling.

A– Always align. Stay relevant to what your prospects do, need, and hope to achieve.

P– Raise Priorities. Position your product or service as an urgent need or else your prospect will continue to put off buying.

2. Pay the price of admission.

Did you know that you’re likely to make 4-6 times as many connections when you’re working with direct-dial phone numbers than without? 

To gain access to the C-suite, sometimes you need to pay to play. Work with a B2B data provider like ZoomInfo to access the contact information you need to bypass gatekeepers, increase connect rates, and close more deals.

3. Leverage trigger events.

Identify occurrences (e.g. new facilities, legislation changes, third-quarter earnings) that create opportunities for lead generation or otherwise indicate a person or company has a need for your product. For example, if you sell compliance training products, new corporate legislation might increase a company’s need for your products.

Stay up-to-date on changes by using automated alert systems and refer to this event when you initiate contact with a new prospect. Dow Jones, Google Alerts, InsideView, and SalesFuel are a few valuable resources for identifying important trigger events.

4. Talk Strategic Value.

Executives only involve themselves in key decisions that move their company towards their desired future and revenue goals. Unless you can clearly articulate the unique business value you provide in these key areas, they won’t have time for you. Make sure to clearly address this in your communications.

It’s important that you try not to mention your product, service, or company too early on in the conversation. Those details are irrelevant to a C-level executive. If you bring them up in your initial communication, it will sound too much like a sales pitch and you’ll lose the sale before it begins.

Instead, start by explaining the particular pain point you intend to solve. This will show your prospect you understand their goals and pain points— not to mention, it will grab their attention right away. Once they express an interest in solving that particular paint point, you can move on to talk solutions.

Key Takeaways About Selling to C-Level Executives

Dealing with senior executives requires lots of preliminary effort and planning, but is worth it in the long run. Being able to contact a C-suite level employee (with purchasing power) is like being able to skip the previews and jumping right into the movie. It saves time and is much more enjoyable. 

 ZoomInfo’s B2B contact database can make your job easier. Contact us today to learn more.