Do you remember how exciting it was to move up a grade in basketball, cricket, netball, football, karate or whatever your favourite sport was?
Do you also remember coming home after realising that your famed lay up, defence, pace, inswinger, cut shot or height wasn’t anywhere near as effective and that the other teams had you worked out pretty quickly?
C Level Execs will also work you out in a matter of 7 minutes as to whether you are a good old fashioned slogger in a suit or a legitimate source of trust, advice and opportunity.
Here are the top ten crappy sales behaviours that can ruin your C Level Meetings
1. ‘Thanks very much for your time, I know you’re a busy person and appreciate you agreeing to see me’
Aaaargh..! In the first 30 seconds you’ve just said ‘Hello O Great One, I am but a humble seller trading my wares. It’s not polite and respectful. It screams ‘I am not an equal and don’t treat me like one’. What’s wrong with ‘Good to meet you.’
2. Fake rapport
Yes…you’ve done it – chatted inanely about the weather, his lovely office, last night’s football match, recent election results or other vomitous topics. It seemed reasonable with the mid level manager who had Hawthorn/Rabbitohs posters on his wall, but all the C Level Exec wants is authenticity, not some cheap speed dating repartee. Try mentioning what you’ve learned of his industry, not the picture of the marlin on the wall.
3. Bunny Boiler.
You’re 5-10 minutes into a meeting and you start talking about how you’re a company that’s looking for a relationship, a partnership. If that was you on a date you’d secretly pull a nostril hair, fake a nose bleed and get out of there faster than you can say Glenn Close. You don’t even know what s/he wants in the C Suite. It might be a quick win or it might be strategic so relax about the long term relationship stuff until you know each other a little better.
4. Prescriptive Agendas
If you went out with a friend and upon arriving at the restaurant, your mate said ‘So, first I think we should talk about your job, then I’ll discuss my promotion, then it would good to hear about your ex-wife and finally we’ll wrap up with any questions’, what would you do? You’d say ‘Are you completely nuts, what’s wrong with you?’
The C Level Decision Maker doesn’t want you to drive him/her through a prescriptive agenda. They want you to have a business conversation that is free flowing and explores all sorts of interesting ideas and issues in the business.
5. Crapping on
There’s a time in most meetings when you have an opportunity to discuss your products/services, but make it short, valuable and relatable. If you’re still banging on after 5 minutes about your wonderfully unique, exciting, holistic, integrated end to end solution, you’ve become the self indulgent talking to the self interested. Not conducive to a longer meeting.
6. Listening only to the bits that interest you
Your C Level friend is exploring a number of concerns but it’s 20 minutes in and you’re worried that none of their issues seem to relate to your widgets. Panic sets in and you abruptly steer the conversation like an L Plater on a freeway into a topic more amenable to discussing your favourite solutions. Clunk!. You’ve just cut them off in a major lane change and you know how much you love that on the highway. They hate it too.
7. Whipping it Out
Out comes the IPAD, PowerPoint Presentation, Prezi, Booklet, Brochure or whatever crappy material Marketing gave you that quarter. No matter how skillfully it’s done it all looks like ‘Here’s one we prepared earlier’ Untailored stodge. If you need to be visual, use a whiteboard on the fly.
8. No Flag of Hope
In Robin Williams infamous dissertation on the invention of golf he describes the use of the green as ‘At the end we’ll put a flat piece with a flag to give you f*king hope’
C Level People want hope too. They are hoping that you are not a time wasting tosser that is going to lead them down the garden path with no proven experience of success.
Tell them stories of successes in their industry. Make sure they know there are wins to be had in engaging you, rather than possible maybes after we’ve plugged some numbers into a spreadsheet.
9. Shoving yourself down the food chain
You’ve worked hard to get to C Level. You and your company have earned the right to be there. Great! So please don’t find yourself asking to be shunted down the chain of command with comments like ‘ Would it possible to meet with the IT/Finance/Operations Manager’ because they’ll more than likely say yes. It’s now off their plate and they’re thinking if the ideas are any good they’ll re-surface in 3 months time back up the line after you’ve worked your butt off trying to win over multiple stakeholders. If the ideas don’t pop back up on their radar, they were probably not strong enough anyway.
It’s much more effective upon the flicker of interest to say ‘OK, how about you and I schedule another meeting to discuss this further. How would you recommend WE engage the rest of the business? Peer to Peer. The Power of We.(with apologies to Avaya’s tagline.)
10. Forget Sales 101
Sales 101 said you should actually do some of the above. Sales 101 said you should control the meeting. Sales 101 said you should ask leading questions to get the client to see your value proposition. To paraphrase Monty Python, Sales 101 is not resting, it’s dead, it has ceased to be, it is an ex-methodology, it’s expired, shuttled off this mortal coil and gone to meet its maker.
In the Salient Executive Level Selling and Presentation Program we cure people of Sales 101 Ruination so they can win more business at C Level. Email me if you’d like a blurb.
CEO of Salient Communication, Elliot is a sought after keynote speaker and corporate trainer who has coached and trained over 4000 people including CEOs, senior management and successful sales teams throughout Australasia and Asia including Hong Kong and Singapore.
Elliot is a specialist sales speaker and trainer for high profile corporates having spoken at over 1500 conferences, workshops and break-out sessions on presenting, selling, negotiating and pitching for leading companies such as HP, Avaya, Commonwealth Bank, Hitachi, Computershare, CUB and SEEK. He is renowned for ensuring presentations are engaging, interactive and relevant to winning business in competitive markets.
Elliot is based in Melbourne where he lives with his wife and two expensive children.