Social Selling Tips of the Week: Selling to Senior Executives

Learn how to identify and reach top-level senior executives with social selling tools that get results from the C-suite

December 23, 2016

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Every salesperson dreams about catching the C-level buyer. Reaching senior executive decision makers is what focused prospecting is all about—getting a hold of the people with the authority to close the deal. But not all C-suite leads are created equally, and neither are the prospecting strategies you need to use to reach them.

Which tools will help you find the right executive prospects? How do you create an ideal customer profile for executive buyers? What are the next steps for contacting, pitching, and closing the deal with the executive suite? And who exactly are these CEOs anyway? The answers might surprise you.

4 Myths About Selling to Executives Debunked

Selling to a senior executive is fundamentally different than pitching to mid-level decision makers—but the differences aren’t what you think. Here are four major misconceptions about selling to executives debunked once and for all.

CEO, executive sales trainer, and consultant Jeff Hoffman tackles some common debilitating myths that might be affecting how your sales team engages top decision makers. Among obvious misconceptions like, “executives are rude or curt” or “executives expect you to be overly grateful,” Hoffman encourages reps to identify the positive implications behind these often-misunderstood reputations.

Executives expect sales solutions that add value. “If you head into the meeting armed with valuable insights, thoughtful questions, and personalized suggestions, you’ll receive respect and attention,” concludes Hoffman. The fastest path to failure in the C-suite is assuming you don’t belong there. Engage executives with the same confidence and competence you bring to every sales meeting and you’ll do well.

Establishing Executive Level Credibility

Reaching executives is about a lot more than getting past the gatekeepers. The buyer’s journey has changed, and thanks to new social selling content channels, the key to contacting top-level executives is all about establishing your reputation.

“Credibility is the key to success with the C-Suite executives and other high powered influencers,” argues author and executive selling expert Samuel Manfer. Establishing authority is essential for getting your foot in the executive lounge door—and the most expedient way to do that is by consistently providing value.

“C-Levels only care about what you can do for her,” concludes Manfer. Make your network a hub of valuable, relevant industry-specific information and thought leadership that establishes authority. Leaders are attracted to other leaders. Thanks to the new sales funnel and exponential social influence, establishing executive-level credibility is as simple as consistently providing value for your target buyers; especially the ones at the top.

Are Millennials Senior Executives Yet?

When you think of executives, you often picture stodgy, old men set in their ways, impenetrable and surrounded by layers of obfuscation. And you’re not wrong. But things are changing, and they’re changing fast. Today’s millennials might already be tomorrow’s executives.

CEO and author of Big Shifts Ahead: Demographic Clarity for Business, John Burns, conducted over 9,000 hours of research on millennials. He discovered an impending shift (a “big” one) in the way that we sell to millennials. Specifically, Burns notes how badly salespeople categorize and segment millennials.

“Mark Zuckerberg and my high-school-age daughter Kelsey are both considered millennials, yet their interests and stages in life could not be more different.” He continues, “Most CEOs have perfected selling to their peers, who tend to be 1950s ‘Innovators,’ 1960s ‘Equalers,’ and 1970s ‘Balancers.’ Millennials behave much differently.” Burns recommends segmenting millennials into decade specific ranges (the 80’s and 90’s) based on one key factor: their relationship to technology.

Today’s executive millennials have become more comfortable with social platforms than any prior generations. They were literally born to it. Change the way you target the C-suite, because millennials are on their way to the top very soon.

Executives Are Always the Goal

Prospecting is all about getting your salespeople in front of decision makers. Reaching senior executives is the ultimate achievement of that goal—the people at the top have the most power to say yes and close the deal.

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