Contacting and Selling to C-Level Executives
The Telemarketer’s number two nemesis is the CEO, COO, CFO or the top positions in a business. In truth however, these people are just like any other. They wake up in the morning and brush their teeth just like you do.
However, it’s important to understand their objectives. Get a feel for their role and what they try to achieve with their time. It certainly doesn’t mean that your call will be a waste of their time. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The chances are this C-Level Executive has put a lot of time and effort into growing their business. Anything you can offer to help their cause will be well received as long as you present it correctly.
Getting through to them is the easy part. A lot of old fashioned telemarketing agencies just make it hard for themselves. The internet is a great resource for gathering names and you can very easily buy data for the relevant decision makers but if you don’t have that, there are a few techniques you can use.
Getting through to C-Level Executives Tip 1
Step by step
1. Make one phone call and ask who the CEO is. Write it down.
2. Build a list of decision makers using this method
3. Phone back the following week and ask for that CEO
Use the PA
1. Ask for the PA to the Directors, CEO etc
2. Tell her you would like to get a time in his/her diary
3. Explain the service or product briefly
4. Back it up with information by email or post
Chase the PA
1. Make a follow up phone call
2. Ask if the decision maker is free (offer a specific week and make if a few weeks ahead)
3. Ask for a deadline date to have something arranged
Send an email first
1. Send a relevant email
2. Follow up with a call and say “they’ll know what it’s about”
Important… DO NOT SELL TO A GATEKEEPER. They will take your presentation, condense it into a 5 second memo to the decision maker and you won’t get another chance.
How to sell to C-Level Executives
The first thing to remember is that you only have a short period of attention from someone in this position. If you don’t get to the point, you’ll lose them. Get rid of the cheesy rapport building lines like “how are you today” and replace them with simple, honest and to the point sentences. Tell the person who you are, why you are calling and what you are looking to achieve from the call. If you do that within the first few seconds of the call you’ll gain more trust because you haven’t tried to make a friend, you’ve tried to present some information accurately and honestly. How many times have you taken a sales call and thought to yourself “I hope this salesperson is really nice because I could really do with a friend right now”. I’d imagine it’s not very often. How many times have you taken a sales call and thought to yourself “what is this about” or “get to the point”. Probably more often so there is the first tip. Get to the point. Don’t try to befriend the decision maker, they won’t be interested in that. They want to know why you are calling and who you are. Once you have built a rapport based on honesty and established yourself as a good use of their time, then you can work on the personal relationship.
“I understand you would be the person in charge of outsourcing a telemarketing agency? I’m from Big Green. We are an advanced telemarketing consultancy. I’d like to have a brief chat with you about outbound telemarketing but before I do, I’d like to see if it’s relevant to you”
“I’m from Clean Technology UK, we are an energy consumption and carbon emission consultancy. I’d like to talk you through lowering your energy consumption and carbon footprint but before I do, I’d like to see if it’s relevant to you.”
Of course, your own script is likely to have a little more detail than this. These examples are simply to show you that you can get right to the point and you don’t need the cheesy lines which many telemarketing agencies still cling on to.
The second tip is to make your call relevant. ‘Relevant’ is a massive word which resonates with every decision maker in the world and should be central to your entire telemarketing campaign. Is this relevant to me? Your job is to make it relevant. If your product or service isn’t relevant, don’t waste your time trying to persuade someone that it is because you’ll leave the decision maker remembering that you tried to hard sell or you wouldn’t take no for an answer. That portrayal of your business will then stick. It’s all about qualification. You are not just qualifying the opportunity for yourself, you are qualifying it for the decision maker too. Maybe your service saves businesses money on their energy bills. You need to show the decision maker that your service works. They need to understand it in real terms instead of just “we can save you thousands on your energy bills”. You need to present the case to them in a way they can understand clearly.
“Are you spending more than £50k on your energy?”
“Yes, we spend around £80k”
“Then I see that this certainly is relevant to you. You’ll save around £20k each year with this service. But rather than going through all the details over the phone, I’d like to come and show you…”
Or perhaps you have a product which will save time…
“Can you tell me how long it takes you to produce a full estimate?”
“Around 3-4 hours”
“This is definitely relevant to you. With this system, you’ll reduce that estimating time to around 30 minutes but rather than going through the whole thing over the phone, I’d like to show you…”
This takes us neatly on to the third tip. Have confidence in your presentation.
We’ve really stripped down the whole call you’re likely to make but try to imagine that, by now, you’ve explained the service or product you are offering in good detail and discovered lots of relevant information about your customer. You’ve qualified the opportunity as relevant and you’ve given the decision maker the chance to see that this is definitely relevant to their business. Have confidence in the fact that you’ve explained it accurately and go for your appointment. Firstly, you need to briefly summarise the call. Focus on the information they have given you and give it back to them accompanied by your solution. Explain the process from here and the agenda for the meeting. Then end that part of the call with the close.
“This certainly is relevant to you. It looks like you’ll be able to save around £20k per year on your £80k energy spend. I’ll organise for my energy consultant to come and show you how this service works. They’ll have a look at your premises and produce a detailed report on how and where you will make your saving. Are you available next week?”
“Ok, it looks like this system will save you a lot of time and effort on your estimates. I’ll organise for a consultant to give you a demonstration of the system which will give you a much clearer idea of how it could work within your business. The consultant will talk you through this in more detail and relate it to your own estimating procedures. Are you available next week?”
Do you notice how I’m saying more about how “you’ll save money” instead of “we’ll save you money”? Well, this is tip number four. It’s about the customer not you!
There are too many companies that simply say “we have this” and “we do that”. Who cares? It’s such a self centred way to sell. It should be about the customer, not the company trying to sell. Remember that the decision maker is thinking about the relevance to themselves, there’s that word again. They are not interested in what you do, they are interested in what it means to their business. It’s your job to build a picture in the decision maker’s imagination of them using your product or your system in operation within their business. You’ll do that by describing your product or service in use by the customer. Put it in their mind, let them relate to it in their own imagination.
Then you have the REAL way to close. Tip number five is about the REAL close. Where is the REAL close in your telesales call? Is it when the customer agrees to the appointment? NO.
The customer agreeing to an appointment is the trial close or a pre-close if you like. Think of the actual word ‘close’. In telesales, your ‘close’ is to close off your part of the sale. So you’ve arranged the appointment, now make it stick. Firstly, the customer needs to know the full details of the person coming to see them. Name, email, direct number, title etc. Then, the decision maker needs to know the company’s details. Name, number etc. Many old fashioned telesales agencies believe you should NEVER give the customer the chance to cancel an appointment. Why not? If they wanted to cancel they would and if they want to cancel but don’t get round to it because they don’t have the contact information, your appointment is likely to be poor. It’s all about honest selling. By giving the customer your contact details, they will feel more comfortable knowing that they are not under masses of pressure. You’ve presented the product or service well, you’ve displayed that it’s relevant. Now it’s up to the decision maker and the consultant. Before you end the call, make sure the decision maker has heard the time and day of the appointment three times.
1. When you first agree the appointment
2. When giving the consultant’s details
3. The last thing you say “thanks, we’ll see you on Monday at 10”
“Information is only as good as its presentation” [Tom Soane] Now you’ve booked your appointment or generated your lead, your job is half done. Now you need to keep selling internally. The consultant going out to the meeting needs to know everything possible to continue your hard work. Give them full contact details, company details and notes on the conversation you’ve had. Remember, keep your notes factual and non-emotional. Don’t write any personal opinions, write about factual information you’ve picked up during the call. You want that sales person or consultant to go to that meeting with as much information as possible. Make their job easier for them.
I’ll end this piece with the most important point of all when selling to C-Level Executives. It’s a presentation NOT a sales pitch.
Decision makers are in that position because of their ability to consume information and make a decision on it. Your phone call will not change that. If you have a good product or service, the most important and effective thing you can do is be clear, accurate and honest. If you are asked a question, answer it honestly and factually. Present your product or service in the same way you would want it presented to yourself. Speak slowly, clearly and get straight to the point. Don’t waffle and certainly don’t try to talk your way past any objections. Objections are your friends! Objections are the customer’s way of telling you their concerns. Another way to think about it is that objections are the customer’s way of telling you what you need to do to close this sale. Remember, just be honest about it. If you are asked something which might have a negative answer, answer it honestly. You could avoid it or talk your way out of the question, you might even carry on and book an appointment but if that negative question is in the decision makers mind and you haven’t satisfied it, the decision maker will answer it themselves.