Trending This Week: Reassess to Impress C-Level Buyers

For salespeople, engaging busy C-level buyers can prove extraordinarily challenging. Learn tactics for breaking through and becoming a trusted advisor.

July 14, 2017

  • sales-trends-buyers

After enjoying her July 4th vacation, a C-level buyer returns to work, sits down at her desk, and opens her email inbox, only to find a mountain of unsolicited sales outreach messages from unfamiliar addresses.

The response is automatic: Select all. Delete.

This hypothetical scenario is not so hypothetical, really. It’s what business executives do on a regular basis, and it makes the path to intros and relationship-building all the more challenging for quality salespeople.

One of the most popular trending articles on LinkedIn over the past week, from Tony J. Hughes of Tayble, touches on some of the key mistakes sales pros are making when trying to engage C-level buyers, with helpful advice on how to overcome these common traps.

Let’s touch on a few salient points and takeaways:

C-Level Buyers: A Tough Proposition

Why is getting through to executive buyers so difficult? Hughes lays out four primary obstacles:

1.     They are under pressure, drowning in workload and are time poor

2.     They don't believe the over the top ROI claims from sellers

3.     They are deadened to all the outreach being projected at them

4.     They filter requests based on referrals from a trusted source (people who work for them or peers they respect)

While none of these are especially revelatory, it is wise to keep them in mind as you develop your own sales approach. Ask yourself how you can positively influence each of the four items to maximize your chances of gaining traction.

Knowing a buyer is overburdened and low on time, how can I make a pitch that catches his eye quickly and clearly conveys a solution? Knowing many lofty ROI claims fall flat, how can I back mine up with irrefutable evidence that leaves no doubt? And knowing today’s execs are inundated with outreach efforts from every corner, how can mine stand out?

There are no easy answers to these questions, but in his article, Hughes delivers some intriguing insights, particularly in his recap of an interview with Hari Krishnan, CEO of PropertyGuru Group. Krishnan provided some first-hand perspectives on what pushes senior buyers away, and what is more likely to work.

The entire piece is worth reading, but here are a few tidbits that stood out to me:

Best Sales Practices for Reaching C-Level Buyers

●      Referrals and warm introductions are the name of the game. Jumping straight in with a cold outreach is bound to fail at this level. Find mutual connections, or start developing them with a long play in mind.

●      Krishnan also recommends building relationships with individuals lower down in the organization. As you’ve probably heard, more than five people are involved a B2B purchase decision on average today, so it helps to generate familiarity on multiple fronts.

●      Be personal, but not “creepy personal.” There’s a fine line to walk when it comes to social selling. It is good to educate yourself on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, but Facebook stalking and over-the-top friendliness are off-putting. Keep it professional.

●      Frame yourself as a trusted advisor. If a prospect views you as someone who legitimately knows their industry and how to address its unique pains, you will gain far more sway. Reaching this point is definitely not easy, especially without an existing relationship, but the best way to get there is by focusing on the buyer’s distinct objectives, needs, and initiatives, without ramming your product or service as a solution to everything.

These are good fundamentals to keep in mind when selling to anyone, but they are especially critical for engaging the C-suite. The underlying imperative is to create meaningful conversations that extend past simply selling. This means taking steps that go beyond blasting inboxes with scripted outreach, or adding generic and transparent personalization elements to your messaging.

If you construct every aspect of your strategy around the goal of becoming a trusted advisor to anyone who does business with you, then you’ll be on the right track. In today’s crowded marketplace, there is no shortage of solutions and people to pitch them. But regardless of how things change, trust and collaboration will always be treasured.

Want more tips on reaching buyers at the C-level and beyond? Subscribe to the LinkedIn Sales Solutions blog for insights you can put to use every week.