Every salesperson aims to get a response from the C-suite executives and have a fast sales cycle. Yet, not having the necessary level of experience and skills makes it difficult for many sales teams to meet this goal. The final decision-makers are oftentimes the C-Level Executives (CxO) which take proper formulation and execution to market and sell to effectively.
For a C-suite executive, the salesperson has just one chance, unlike most prospects who are lower in the hierarchy of a company where salespeople will chip in several times to find various ways to reach the prospect. So, the higher your prospect is in the company hierarchy, the more challenges you’re likely to face.
These are the most common challenges sales reps face while approaching C-suites and six secrets to getting a response from them.
The Challenges While Approaching the C-Suites
Reaching and engaging with the C-Suits is itself a challenge. However, let’s try to break it down into three primary subsets.
1. Get Noticed or Go Home
C-Suites are constantly chased by sales professionals and besieged with emails. Most of those being promotional emails with vague commitments.
Your challenge is to find a way to either get the C-Level Execs to click and respond to your email or speak to you on a call. There are several ways you can grab their attention, but doing your homework to learn more about where and how your C-Level prospect engages with people will help you decide which approach to use.
2. C-Level Decision Makers Prefer Referrals
Since every C-level decision maker’s inbox is flooded with promotional emails, they look for an easy way to filter the unwanted emails. They’re more likely to prioritize emails from people they know.
Remember that C-suites prefer working with the companies that their peers know and have a strong history. So, you need to be at your best when conveying your thoughts to any C-level executive as if they are considering you for getting their job done, it holds a lot of authority with other leaders.
3. Their Time Is Limited
C-level management authorities always follow an extremely tight schedule. Time is the most valuable thing for them. For a sales rep, getting a small window within the schedule of a C-level executive requires a big incentive. You need to do a lot of homework before you can ask a for their time. Having that data readily available is one of the biggest challenges SDRs face.
So, what are ways to overcome these primary challenges? Let’s look at some of the secrets to engage the C-suites.
6 Secrets of Getting the Response from the C-Suites
1. Write Emails on Your Phone
You might think it’s not professional to send an email from your phone. However, have you thought about how a C-suite executive’s day looks? How do they receive the phone calls? How do they like to read the emails? Do they use laptops all the time or prefer tablets or phones to check things on the go?
Here’s the not so shocking answer – 9 out of 10 times C-suite executives would prefer using smartphones rather than sitting in front of the computer.
Resist the urge to include everything you can in your first email hoping you’ll knock it out of the park with only one touch. If your C-level prospect receives an email from an unknown contact and it’s skimmable or looks like spam, your email will be opened but not actually read. If you are wanting to get them to respond, you should keep the subject line short, and the main body should have a few brief, to-the-point sentences.
Using your phone to draft and send emails will help you keep the subject line and the main body of your email readable on a small screen. Or, if you’re that married to your desktop, you can send a draft to yourself to check on your phone. If it is easily readable on your own device, send it.
2. Use a Gentle Ask
Saying it one more time for the people in the back, CEOs are busy. Pushing for the meeting in the first email or on call is not a good option. You might see it as an opportunity, but you should follow the right sequence in your sales approach. Asking for their time if you haven’t given them anything will ensure that you never get a callback. At this early stage in your outreach, the goal isn’t actually a closed deal or even a meeting! It’s an ‘answer’.
Instead of a meeting or a call request, soften and socialize your closure by asking the CEO for a recommendation or a discussion of how they are addressing industry changes. Then, you are now addressing them as an interested party, and you are likely to find that they’re far more inclined to participate at this stage. And if they’re able to interact, you can speed up the relationship bit by bit.
3. Define a 45-day Cadence
Industry-standard is five keys in 30 days. For CXOS, you should expect five touches in 45 days. The CXOs plans seldom occur on a monthly basis. They’re worried about quarters, not months.
Many prospects are available within a month at any point. No matter where I meet you, there’s going to be a lack of time in four weeks where you’re available—even if you’re on holiday for two of those weeks, sick, off-site, working on a new project, and so on.
But many CXOs will vanish for three weeks at a time depending on what they do. They can’t be away from her business for a whole 45 days, which is why I’d suggest an extended call plan
4. Sequencing Your Sales Approach
When you have a meeting with a CEO, make sure you are well dressed, your presentation is ready, and you set your approach before your meeting. Similarly, you need to organize your sales approach in the right sequence.
Sales sequencing brings value to your sales growth plan by allowing you to maximize your activity and build more interactions with the C-level executives. Approximately 70% of the responses are produced by the second to the fourth email of the follow-up email series. So it’s imperative that you have created a strong sequence of information for them to consider.
Sequencing tools can also be used to create a personalized sales plan to maximize the response and speed up the outreach. For instance, you can build and configure one-on-one email drops using customized email sequences. The challenge with using automation in such a personalized campaign is that your CRM won’t have accurate data or your merge tags fail.
Not only is it embarrassing to send an email that says, “Hi Mr/Mrs. [last.name], I’ve been researching [company.name]…”, but it’s almost certain to kill your chances of getting a response from them. Especially if you pull the wrong information about the CXOs company.
While merge tags are mostly up to you, there are data providers like SalesIntel that can help you get accurate information on your target account/prospect. With SalesIntel, you can directly export 95% accurate human-verified contacts to any popular platform—Salesloft, Outreach, HubSpot, Marketo, or Salesforce—to begin your sequence and use features like data enrichment to ensure your data is always accurate.
5. Avoid Calling Switchboards
A lot of C-level executives have an administrative assistant answering their phones. We’re all familiar with these gatekeepers but look at them as a possible opportunity, not a roadblock. Sales reps should clarify the reason for calling, explain why they are worth taking a few minutes to talk to, and ask the gatekeeper to help them get in contact with the executive.
Although getting the gatekeeper on your side can be done, the safest and fastest way is to try and meet the C-level executives on a direct line or mobile. That said, they’re not always that easy to find which is why leveraging a data partner is extremely helpful. ScaleX’s analysis of SalesIntel data showed SDRs are 7X more likely to reach prospects using SalesIntel’s mobile phone/work numbers.
Pro Tip: Instead of calling the C-suite prospects at the opening hours (9:15 am-11 am) and leaving a voicemail try to make several calls at off-peak times of the day.
6. All Said and Done
When communicating with CXOs you have to be concise and impactful. Afterall, they don’t have a lot of time. One of the best ways to do this is be fully immersed in the target account/prospects news and recent events. Chances are the CXO has heard about them too. So instead of asking them things like ‘do you use Salesforce or Zoho as your CRM’, you can ask their opinion something timely and relevant to them.
Some of the best areas to be read up on include:
- Industry awareness
- Challenges in their industry or, to be even more precise, within their organization that you can help with
- New ideas to grow their business.
- ROI and efficiency you can bring to their operation or process
Doing all of this research may seem overwhelming (especially if you’re targeting more than a handful of C-Suites as a time), but to drive those responses you need to have done a data analysis. Focusing on the following elements will allow you to draw interest and engage CXOs:
- Get sufficient data on the priorities of the C-Level executive and the priorities of the organization.
- Technographic data
- Firmographic data
- Have awareness of their pain points, it is important to know their business complaints.
- Know their market analysis, competitive trends, their industrial, organizational, and consumer drivers, etc.
All Said and Done
Ultimately, if you remain consistent with your communications, platforms, and value proposition you can expect a response from C-Suites. Remember CEOs are often generally friendly to salespeople. They are actively representing their companies to a wide spectrum of audiences. They are smart when it comes to social interaction and reputation. So once you have their attention, you’ll need to be transparent, articulate, and optimistic!
Tailor your messaging, calls, and meetings to the value you bring, and you’ll sign a contract with a C-level executive before you know it.