How to Establish Trust with Senior Level Executives

How understanding, timing, and approach all dictate how successful you are in establishing trust with executives.

March 28, 2016


Know your audience. It’s age-old advice for performers, writers, and sales professionals alike. In this post, the audience in question is that elusive executive-level prospect you hope to build a relationship with.

The goal is to tailor your approach so that it corresponds with their job descriptions. These aren’t necessarily the decision makers—or even the team members who will benefit from your product—but they are the people whose recommendations you rely on. We’re here to offer you advice on how to earn that recommendation and foster a trusting relationship that’s mutually beneficial in the long run.

Don’t Waste Their Time

Organizational leaders or executives have limited time—for them more than most, it’s an extremely scarce and valuable resource. You absolutely must keep this in mind when trying to build a relationship with members of this particular audience.

You only get one chance to make a first impression with an executive. Don’t forget that their voicemails and inboxes are probably packed, so make your approach pointed, specific, and well researched. This will signal that they can trust you with their time.

Make a Smart Approach

According to LinkedIn’s research, 90% of decision-makers never answer a cold call. So scratch that off your list. Don’t start at the top. Build trust by working up to the executive level in the prospect’s organization through the same strategies you would with lower level employees: strategic social selling!

Do your research, work your connections, and personalize your outreach. Once you’ve established credibility with lower level members of an organization, you can confidently seek the contact information and trust from senior level executives.

Say It Right

Tailor your choice of content and communications to the executive’s specific role and duties. They’ll be looking for concrete evidence to support their decision, such as past successes and relevant answers to their most pressing business questions.

Prepare what you’re going to say and what you’ll content follow up with—and do it in a timely, personal manner. With this audience, you may only have one chance so it’s more important than ever to fine-tune your approach and concisely illustrate what you have to offer.

Demonstrate that you know their time is precious by being a trustworthy communicator. Before you dial, take note that executives receive hundreds of inbound communications a week; your job is to explain why you’re different.

Don’t take your case to the executive level until you’re ready. These people are concerned with budgets and big picture strategies, while lower-level employees may be sold on efficiency and ease of use. Don’t assume you’ve won the trust of an executive because you have buy in. Use this opportunity wisely.

For more on personalized selling to executives and other prospects on your list, take a look at our latest eBook.