Prospecting to the C-Suite: Sales vs. marketing
Prospecting to the C-Suite is, in many ways, the same as prospecting to anyone. You need to be personable, informed, polite and timely.
How are C-Suite executives different?
The key requirement for prospecting the C-Suite is efficiency. You have to make every communication count. Let’s break it down.
They’ll require more information
They’re likely already aware of your competitors. Since they’ve got the deciding vote to sign off on a new purchase, they’ll have done their research. You’re going to be asked about competitors, especially if you’re prospecting to a larger company.
You’ll be dealing with teams
In a lot of cases, a C-Suite executive will refer you to someone else with more time. This means you have to be able to communicate with multiple people in a company, and keep everyone in the loop.
They’ll be more assertive
C-Suite executives generally decide when to speak, what to speak about, and how long you’re going to speak for. You’ll have to work around their schedule, which could mean cancelling other things you’ve got booked into their preferred time slot.
They’re results driven
They’re going to respond better to an analytical approach, as opposed to an emotional one. Relevant case studies will go a lot further than buzzwords and sales-y lingo. You need to go into every conversation with facts.
Now that we’ve identified the key differences, let’s talk about how you can sell to the C-Suite.
Selling to the C-Suite
The C-Suite sales process, like most B2B sales processes, can be split into 3 separate stages. Preparation, communication, and closing.
This is all about the preparation that goes into communicating with a C-Suite executive, and how it differs from any other sale.
The first step is doing your research.
“You want to be going into every conversation with confidence. You should already know how many people are in their team, what they’re trying to achieve, the technologies they’re using (if relevant).”
“If you’re asking these questions on the call, you’re wasting their time.”
The deeper your research goes, the better the conversation will go. It’s worth putting in the groundwork.
“This also means researching funding, client acquisitions, financial reports and growth figures. You need to do a deeper level of research, because if you can reference some information specific to the prospect’s situation, it’ll go a long way”
The next thing to consider is that you’re accounting for a C-Suite executive’s different interests.
“You need to be ready to highlight how we’re different to our competitors, because the prospect will have done their research.”
“This also means focusing on the prospect’s complementary tech, because they’ll want to know how our solution will fit in with their processes. Nobody wants to overhaul their processes to fit your product!”
If you’ve done your research, the call will be so much easier. But there are still a few considerations.
C-Suite communication is all about efficiency. Your sales strategy should make things as easy for the prospect as possible.
This means using the right communication channel.
“Email is the first point of call. You want to be sending really high quality, short emails. They’re not going to read long ones.”
“LinkedIn is great for raising awareness of yourself and your business – but it’s not the best channel for outreaching to C-Suite executives. The chances are, they’ll already be receiving a lot of InMail.”
“If you’re going to reach out on LinkedIn, try using voice notes. They’re a good way to start a conversation. Just don’t try to close deals on a voice note!”
“Direct dials are going to give you the best chance of booking a meeting, but a lot of C-Suite executives don’t answer cold calls. If you are cold calling, be ready to make a pitch tailored to the prospect. Then, follow up with an email.”
“Keep your emails short and choppy, and if you can get creative, you’ll stand out.”
“One thing is to cut out is buzzwords. They’re just so sales-y and C-Suite prospects don’t have time for it.”
The final thing to bear in mind is how frequently you contact the prospect. There’s a fine line between persistence and hassling.
“This is exactly why cadencing is so important. There needs to be a structure to your approach, so you can give the prospect enough space.”
“We have a separate cadence for CEOs and MDs. It’s longer in length, but it has more time between each touchpoint.”
Booking a demo
When booking a demo with a C-Suite prospect, we suggest you should focus on clarity.
“First, write an email summarising the call we’ve just had and the next steps. You should be detailed here because a lot of C-Suite executives won’t go to meetings they’re not prepared for. You need a clear agenda to ensure attendance.”
“Make everything clear and easy to digest, it’ll make the prospect much easier to engage with when you close the deal.”
Marketing to the C-Suite
“We do use buzzwords in B2B marketing because they help you explain why you’re there, in the most digestible terms possible. It’s all about finding the right balance between buzzwords and adding value.”
Spoken like a true marketer.
Adapting to a C-Suite executives different interests
Marketers have to make themselves more valuable to a C-Suite executive.
“They won’t have as much time for you, so you have to make your approach tailored and useful. This could be by providing practical resources or using intent data to make sure you reach out at the right time.”
“I tend to make the initial contact really value-driven, and then add in a bit more about our product throughout the campaign.”
Changing your language
The main focus is going to be clarity and value, so you have to make sure you’re covering these bases as a priority.
“When you’re marketing to the C-Suite, you want to be talking in their language. You have to focus on the value you’re adding, and you have to be precise.
“Try to work out how deep the prospect’s understanding of our solution is, and then tailor the campaign with that in mind. Ideally, your campaign should be understandable to everyone who reads it.”
“Some CEOs are really busy, so they’ll pass your campaign on to the next relevant person. Make your campaigns easy to share if possible, with links and suggestions for the prospect.”
“You have to factor in that they’re really busy, and you have to think about where they’re going to be. For me, email is your best bet.”
“If you’re using LinkedIn to run ads, I’d recommend a pretty simple call to action. They’re not going to buy your product based entirely on a LinkedIn ad, but they might download your e-Book.”
Nurture campaigns should be as specific as possible, so it’s always a good idea to have a few different ones running at any time.
“I’ll set up a separate nurture cadence for CEOs in particular because they’re going to have a different perspective to a sales leader or CMO. You have to make your nurture campaigns as value-adding as possible, and that means putting the right copy in front of the right people.”
Doing it differently
C-Suite executives receive 100 boring emails every day. If you’re not doing something different, you’ll fade into the background.
“Don’t be afraid to have fun with the C-Suite. Make your campaign relevant, but also make it jump out. Try to leave a good impression, because even if you can’t close a deal, they’ll speak to their friends and they might check in with you in the future.”
Reaching the C-Suite
The first thing you need before you try out your new sales and marketing techniques, is great contacts. With Prograsys®, you’ll gain access to custom B2B data worldwide.
With the option to search by job title, industry, company name, revenue, specialised sales triggers, and new intent data – you’ll be speaking to ready-to-buy SQLs in no time!
To find out if Prograsys® could be a good fit, speak to one of our experts and get sample data for free!