Selling to CEOs and senior executives can be very intimidating. However, with the right approach and persistency you'll achieve outstanding results that will exceed those you've had from selling lower down the corporate ladder.
Below are a few simple tips to get you in front of them.
1. Making contact
The cold call
This often involves breaking through the protective layers around the CEO to arrange a meeting, so try cold calling. You need to keep your pitch short and benefits driven. Try calling first thing in the morning and late in the afternoon. Also ensure that your product is relevant to the CEO, otherwise aim at a slightly lower executive level.
Alternatively if you're not a great cold caller try this second method.
This involves meeting decision makers below the CEO, which you'll often have to do smaller projects for. In the long run these people can introduce you to the CEO. Be aware of time wasters and empty promises. This sometimes takes time so keep your eye on the ball.
Finally, try a referral method through networking.
Make sure you are strong on social portals like LinkedIn - where people can recommend you. Secondly, attend social events where you can meet senior executives and CEOs.
2. The meetup
When you meet them, converse first. See yourself as a peer and not a vendor. So don't walk in and open your laptop.
Once you've conversed, steer conversation by asking them what interested them in meeting you or what their prospective needs are. Share how you've helped clients with similar issues. Share examples if you can but don't go into sales mode. Keep it conversational. Talk to results and benefits not process. They are passionate about vision and market perception so avoid details.
CEOs naturally see pitfalls and potential concerns so they're going to have a few objections. It's vital in this part of the meeting that you know your stuff. Acknowledge their objections but back them with a well thought out reply.
Be aware of your time throughout the meeting. If you have 30 minutes, keep it to 30 minutes. If you see you are about to go over time and they look interested ask if you should continue or reschedule.
Lastly, aim for a next step. Find out if they are interested. If so, find out how they would like to progress. At the same time if they've seen no benefit, ask them why. Get feedback as it can only help your pitch. Exit gracefully.
3. The followup
Always debrief after the meeting. Make notes on the positive and negative as well as areas for improvement. Add your next steps in here too.
Remember, with sales, it's about persistency, meeting the right people and asking the right questions.