How to Sell a Solution to a Top Executive

Selling to top executives is difficult, right? Wrong! Most top executives WANT to meet with sales pros, because sales pros can offer solutions to problems their own people can’t solve. However, if you’re going to be successful at selling to the top, you must echo the way that top executives make decisions. Here 14 simple steps for doing this:

  • STEP #1: Do Your Research.Before meeting with any executive, research his or her “business agenda” and try to ascertain his or her “personal agenda” as well.
  • STEP #2: Explain Why You’re There. Do not assume that the executive knows who you are and why you’re there. Introduce yourself and explain the purpose of the meeting.
  • STEP #3: Create Immediate Credibility. Within the first few minutes, demonstrate that you have done your homework and understand the company, its challenges and its place in the industry.
  • STEP #4: Focus on business issues. Do not attempt to wow the executive with bells and whistles, Frame everything according to the drivers and metrics that the leader uses to evaluate activities.
  • STEP #5: Ask intelligent questions. Listen more than you talk. Hear what the executive has to say about the situation before proposing any steps of your own.
  • STEP #6: Add an original perspective. Bring value to the conversation by introducing a novel business perspective and concepts.
  • STEP #7: Formulate a value hypothesis. Establish thepossibility that your approach to a problem or opportunity will work.
  • STEP #8: Get validation for your hypothesis. Make certain the general outline of your solution makes sense to the customer. If not, politely end the meeting. If so, move to Step #9.
  • STEP #9: Propose a next step. Involve the executive directly in planning subsequent action and plan to re-connect to follow up.
  • STEP #10: Consider what you’ve learned. After you’ve had the initial meeting, think through what you’ve learned and develop a proposal for contributing real value.
  • STEP #11: Create a value proposition. Use concrete data about how the company operates, what its costs are and what you might be able to fix to flesh out a solution quantifiable benefits.
  • STEP #12: Provide support while the executive sells. When a top executive is fully committed, he or she will move the solution through the buying process. Your job is to help.
  • STEP #13: Take responsibility. Even though the executive is the prime mover, you must make certain that everything on your end happens in a timely manner.
  • STEP #14: Create a value statement. After the sale, audit the project and report on its value as compared to your value proposition. If the executive knows that working with you was a “win”, he or she will buy from you again.

NOTE: The above is based on a conversation with Dr. Steve Bistritz and Nicholas A.C. Read, authors of the huge bestseller, Selling to the C-Suite.

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