Thursday, March 11, 2010

Selling at the C-Level

Sometimes it’s the C-Level customer that is the roadblock because they do not understand the difference between someone selling them a product and someone trying to help. Sometimes it’s because the sales person is still stuck in the “feature, benefit, close” sales process.
The April 2009 Harvard Business Review posed the question “Who can help the CEO?” The answer is other CEOs, or peers. This can make it difficult to engage with C-Level Executives and appropriate decision makers in organisations, unless they see you as a peer.
Many companies, even consultants, try a front on approach that necessitates a product based discussion. Whilst it might be true that your product may eventually fit a possible client, a product based approach generally ends up in an early discussion of feature, benefit and price.
Based on prior experience I recommend a course of action that engages the target decision makers at a business level that is not directly related to your product. My experience shows that it is easier to get C-Level Executives into a smaller setting when they know that the focus of the meeting will be them, not the technology or services company.
The idea of peer support becomes viable in the smaller environment and is in line with current thought leadership in business approaches. The best result is that in being part of the discussion, you too become a peer.