Selling to high-level prospects is the only way to take your sales to the next level—no matter your industry. Learn the 5 most critical tips to selling to a c-suite buyer in this game-changing video.
In sales—when it really comes down to it—there are only two kinds of salespeople: Those who are superstars, and those who aren’t.
Over the course of my career working with thousands of salespeople, I’ve found that one common thread between all sales superstars is that they’ve mastered selling to C-suite buyers.
Don’t worry: If you’re intimidated by selling to C-suite executives, you’re far from alone.
In fact, the vast majority of salespeople don’t even know they should be trying to sell to the C-suite. According to a recent study by sales research guru Steve W. Martin, only 31% of salespeople can converse effectively with senior executives.
To underscore just how big this problem is in sales, let me tell you about two salespeople I used to know…
Now, both of these salespeople sold promotional products—such as t-shirts, jackets, hats, and mugs—for the exact same company.
They both had access to the exact same suite of products. They both worked the exact same number of hours, and they had both been working at the company for the exact same amount of time.
So why was one salesperson selling $300,000 in product a year, yielding $40,000 in income—while the other sold $4 million in product a year, yielding $500,000 in income?
Both salespeople had the exact same number of accounts.
What could possibly explain the massive difference in their sales and income?
As you’ll find out in the article and video below, the answer lies in selling to high-level prospects.
Keep reading to discover exactly why—and to learn the 5 critical tips you need to know to start selling to C-suite buyers today.
Selling to C-Suite Video Summary:
Why Selling to C-Suite Buyers Makes Superstars
Those two salespeople I told you about earlier? They were selling to two totally different categories of sales prospects.
That’s the key to why one was making half a million dollars a year—while the other was just getting by.
In order to truly understand why selling to C-suite buyers makes such a difference in sales, it’s crucial to take a look at who those non-C-suite buyers are.
Our $40,000-a-year salesperson was selling to non-C-suite buyers. So who are they?
They’re your typical buyers: managers, procurement folks, and human resources employees. By focusing on these kinds of prospects, that salesperson earned just enough to scrape by.
On the other hand, our sales superstar wasn’t wasting any time on those buyers. Instead, this salesperson focused exclusively on getting in front of CEOs, CMOs, and senior VPs.
The direct result of this strategy was earning $500,000 in income a year.
I can’t stress enough how important this is to your future in sales.
This one seemingly tiny, single distinction meant a 10 times difference in sales and income for these two salespeople.
When salespeople fail to pursue C-level buyers, they miss out on massive opportunity.
It doesn’t matter what you’re selling: If you aren’t selling to C-suite buyers at the high end of an organization, or at least those VP levels, then it’s time to change the way you sell.
In this article, I’m going to show you the 5 critical tips to selling to C-suite buyers so you can start your transformation today.
#1: See yourself as C-suite.
This is probably the most critical barrier that holds salespeople back from selling at the C-suite level: They simply don’t see themselves as worthy of selling to C-level executives.
It’s time to put this low self-esteem behind you. Never talk “up” to someone; act like a peer to every single prospect, no matter their title.
Always sell at the top as if you belong there.
If you view yourself as an expert in sales, then your C-suite buyers will view you as a trusted advisor—and a peer.
This means you need to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and sell high up that food chain. Remember, selling to C-suite buyers at the high end of an organization is going to yield such a higher return on your time than selling at the bottom end of the organization.
The key here is to never let your prospects know if you feel somehow inferior to them. If you do, you’ll come off as a desperate salesperson who needs the business—and never close the sale.
#2: Understand that low-level buyers waste your time.
Typical low-level buyers such as procurement folks and managers have small, fixed budgets. They view salespeople as vendors and products as commodities to be priced against one another.
In fact, many low-level buyers have actually taken courses on how to work a vendor.
They’re bonused based on what they save their organization in spending. And the reality is that low-level buyers often have to get approval to make almost any decision, no matter how small.
This is a huge time suck.
Low-level buyers might be easy to get in front of, but they will waste your time, again and again.
That’s why selling to low-level buyers is one of the most common sales mistakes out there.
Selling to C-suite buyers, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. It’s pure green space.
When selling to C-suite prospects, you’ll notice that once your prospects see value in your offering, they’ll pay your price.
This is because they’re bonused for increasing revenues or increasing profits at their organization—not for how much money they save.
C-suite buyers can move money around to pay for anything. Also, they don’t need to run decisions by a supervisor because these prospects are the decision makers.
Once you commit to playing in this high-level space, your whole world will change.
#3: Help identify top and bottom-line value in your offer.
When I ask most salespeople, “Why should people do business with you?” they often say things like, “Well, we have the best service, great experience, and fast delivery.”
You know what? Those are benefits that only a low-level buyer cares about.
When selling to C-suite buyers, you quickly find out that the CEO, CMO, COO, and CFO don’t care about any of that. They don’t care about service and friendliness and smiling faces.
They care about increasing revenues.
They care about increasing profits.
They care about EBITA. (By the way, if you don’t know what EBITA is, look it up, because you’re going to need to know that in order to sell to the C-suite.)
Instead of talking about features and benefits that only appeal to low-level prospects, create more value in your sales conversations. Focus on how your offering can help high-level prospects improve profits in a big way.
#4: Get right to the point.
People at the high end of an organization don’t need you to be schmoozy. They’re busy. They have a lot going on.
Now, I’m not saying that you can’t be friendly, but these people often tend to be drivers. They tend to be type A.
They don’t mess around.
When selling to C-suite executives, don’t be intimidated by them, but rather think like them. Be friendly, but get straight to the point in your conversations.
This is one of the most important skills for selling to CEOs.
Ask them things like, “What are you looking to accomplish in the next two quarters?”
Get right to the point and they will love you.
#5: Present your solution around bottom-line results.
Again, this can’t be overstated enough: The C-suite doesn’t care about your amazing customer service or your low prices.
They only care about increasing profits.
If you’re more expensive, but you’re going to get C-level buyers a better return on their investment, then you’re actually in a really good place.
Push yourself to think about how your offering will help C-suite buyers accomplish their goals. Present your solution around those bottom-line results.
This is something that all the most successful salespeople know how to do.
Every product or service offering can increase profits. You just have to identify how, and drop all the fluff that will only appeal to low-level buyers.
Consider that a thing of the past.
Conclusion: Start Selling to C-Suite Buyers Today
Now that you’ve read this article, I hope it’s clear: While most salespeople struggle with viewing themselves as peers to C-suite buyers, this type of low self-esteem only hurts their sales.
It’s time to transform the way you view yourself—and the way you approach the art of selling.
In the end, if you view yourself as belonging in the C-suite, you’ll set yourself apart from the competition—and land bigger deals, more often.
As we’ve learned in this article, it’s time to stop wasting your time on those low-level buyers who won’t give you enough ROI on the time and energy you invest.
Focus on identifying top and bottom-line value in your offer, and you’ll attract high-level prospects to do business with you. Fail to do so, and you’ll be stuck selling to procurement folks and HR buyers forever.
What’s more, it’s crucial that you talk the talk. Get right to the point and don’t bore your C-suite prospects with too much gabbing.
Talk like executives in order to do business with them.
And finally, learn how to present your solution around bottom-line results—because all your C-suite buyers care about are profits, profits, and more profits.
So, there you have it. Now you know the 5 critical tips to selling to C-suite buyers. I want to hear from you. Which of these ideas did you find most useful? Be sure to share below in the comments section and join the conversation. I’ll respond to as many comments as I possibly can.
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About the Author Marc Wayshak
Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.
Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.
Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.