Here are 16 tips for reaching the CEO and speaking their language.
1. CEO’s don’t have budgets.
They set them…and take them. Don’t ever think that there’s no money. There almost always is money, and they will spend it because they don’t have budgets.
2. CEO’s want strategic answers.
They don’t buy stuff, they have others that do that. If you’re selling them something, they’re going to send you to Purchasing.
Your questions have to be wrapper around strategic topics. The way you speak to a CEO cannot be the same way you speak to a lower-level manager. Often, they don’t need the details, they need the bigger picture.
3. CEO’s don’t trust anyone who is not referred to them.
Think “tranferrable trust”. You need someone else to introduce you to the CEO and make a connection. If that someone else is trusted by the CEO, they’ll automatically think that you are someone they can trust.
4. CEO’s are outcome focused.
They’re not about the mechanics of how something works. That’s for somebody else to worry about.
If you want to go into a conversation with a CEO and want to explain how your product works—they don’t care. What they want are outcomes.
5. CEO’s value time.
Brevity wins the day. Don’t keep the meeting going just because you have scheduled time.
Make it brief, the CEO will appreciate that.
Manage your time like a CEO. Read these 5 time tips.
6. CEO’s delegate.
They are always looking for a way to get something off of their plate.
If it can reduce their time, they’re interested. That includes the meeting with you! If you don’t give them a reason to meet you and preset the value of that meeting, they’ll likely cancel.
7. Integrity matters
The CEO is a pretty lonely position. This is why they want somebody they can trust and respect.
That’s why they often need someone else they trust and respect to carry you into the c-suite.
How to Reach the CEO
1.Transferrable trust, a peer relationship
If you can develop relationships with other people who know CEO’s, that’s going. tobe incredibly powerful for you to open doors.
Referrals are a huge asset. Enroll in the Referrals Masterclass and learn how to get more… consistently.
CEO’s are often in leading positions in a trade association, so you need to be involved too.
Or perhaps they don’t have an active role, but one of their direct reports or senior lieutenants does. You want to know those people as well.
3.Company peer or highly regarded direct report
The CEO might be part of a larger organization that owns other companies, other divisions. Are there people you know in those who could help carry you in?
Some CEO’s could have 7-12 direct reports. Among them there could be 2-3 that they really respect. Identify those people, and have them take you to the CEO.
It’s a two-step process; you have to earn their trust first. Let them see how you’re going to bring value so they see you warrant the CEO’s attention.
Final Insights into the C-Suite
1. Be seen as a person on their level.
You have to be seen as a peer. You have to do your homework and know their business, their industry, even a little about them before you begin. Then you can ask the right strategic questions.
Do your homework before the meeting, not on the sales call.
2. You do not reach the CEO flying solo.
You have to be carried into the C-Suite. That requires a peer relationship.
Because CEO’s can be skeptical, they’re jaded, and they aren’t going to accept input from anybody they don’t trust.
3. Establish your position in the marketplace.
Your reputation goes before you. Nobody has a meeting with anybody without checking them out online. CEO’s are likely to do a deep dive.
So you need to make sure your online reptuation in the marketplace is zeroed in on the industry and what it is you do.
How does your LinkedIn profile showcase you? Read these 10 tips for success on LinkedIn.
4.Be prepared to go big.
Invest! You may have to jump on an airplane in order to have a meal with them. Or you might have to travel all day just to attend a one-hour breakout session or industry event with hopes of rubbing shoulders with the CEO.
5.Play the long-game.
Cracking the c-suite will not happen overnight.
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Copyright 2023, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog. Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.