If we’re being honest with ourselves, selling to other businesses can feel really challenging: simple decisions feel like they’re taking forever; you’re getting requests for more information or another demonstration, and the budget you’re being told is all they have, is never enough to properly deliver what you’re told they want. If this strikes a chord with you, then the problem may be that you are talking to the specialist – people with titles like Marketing Manager, Product Development Manager, Head of HR – rather than the person with whom the buck really stops.
So if you want to speed up your sales process, create targeted killer pitches, and reduce the chances of the price being used as the first negotiation point, serial entrepreneur, growth mentor, and founder of Growth Circles (Un) Limited, Carri Nicholson, gives you five tried and tested reasons why you should always start your sales conversations at the top.
Time to think C-suite to C-Suite
If you’re the founder or MD of your business, why downplay the achievement and hard work that it’s taken you to get there by pitching to anyone other than the person who’s on the same level as you. Sure, their business may be bigger, but you deserve no less, and there’s a good chance they were once in your shoes. If you always make your initial contact with the ultimate decision-maker, you’ll have a very different and more positive conversation when you’re talking as one business leader to another.
Aim to listen and learn
Understand that your initial conversation is not about you or about the sale! It’s about you developing a rapport with your new C-suite contact, and establishing your credibility as a trusted connection. Take the opportunity to ask lots of open questions that will help you understand what the pain points are for both the business and your contact. At the end of the conversation, you will either know that pitching your product at this point in time is a non-starter, or you will have enough insights and information that will allow you to craft the ultimate and extremely targeted killer pitch.
Features vs benefits
Did you know that, even for the most logical of individuals, buying decisions are always based on emotions? And that this is just as true for the CEO of a multi-billion pound organisation as it is for you? Having made a decision, people will then look for a logical reason to back up their choice. Benefits are emotional triggers, features provide the rationale, so ensure any discussions with the business owner or leader aim to identify the potential impact that using your product or service will have on their business (the why), not what it actually does (the how). Most CEOs are only interested in how once you’ve already sold them on the why.
Take price out of the equation
If you want this to be the case, then you have to talk to the top: there is no other person in the organisation who will give you the level of insight to make this a possibility. If your proposal is very clear on the benefits their business will gain by using your product or service – as well as the potential negative impact of not using it – and if you can subtly show that it will make at least one of their pain points go away, then price becomes an irrelevance. And always remember that price is a feature, not a benefit…