HINT: It ain’t your product.
Everyone tells you to meet with the decision-maker. Everyone tells you to meet with the CEO. No one, however, seems to offer any advice on what to say when you get to that meeting, what to do when you get to that meeting, or what to ask when you get to that meeting.
HARSH REALITY: It’s more than likely the CEO doesn’t want to meet with you, much less talk about your product or service.
The paradox is that you, the salesperson, are polishing up your presentation to make it your best one ever. The only problem with that is, the CEO really doesn’t want to hear your presentation. He or she is busy running a business and has little time or interest in getting down to your specific offer.
HARSH REALITY: Instead of making your presentation, why don’t you just e-mail it to the CEO? That way, when you get there, a decision has already been made and you can talk about what the CEO really wants to talk about.
Here are the things CEOs are interested in:
Here are the real-world to-dos that will get you in the door PREPARED to give your presentation:
Get personally ready. Most executives have some kind of bio online. Find it and figure out what you can talk about that fits with who you are or what you do.
Get familiar with the things CEOs are interested in and have something meaningful to say about each. You have to know about each one from the perspective of the customer, and then add your wisdom or your thinking.
Have a reputation they can find. Be mindful that the CEO will Google you, find you on Facebook, look you up on Twitter, check out your LinkedIn profile, look for your blog, and look to see if you have any testimonial videos on YouTube. And, you can’t stop them. What they find will impact the decision that they’re about to make. How’s your reputation?
Your first question must be emotional. It will lead you to the second—and may even lead to early rapport or common ground. Ask, “Where did you grow up?” This one question sends the decision maker on an immediate, stream of conscious, emotional journey. Thoughts will flash about siblings, parents, friends, and growing up in life. If there’s a smile on his face, continue a little bit. Notice immediately that the atmosphere between the two of you is relaxed. If you have something in common say it right away. NOTE: The first question is based on your preparation and research.
When you go from personal to business, ask before you tell. When
it’s time to segue into business, ask him for his knowledge of the history of his company’s use of your product or service. Get his wisdom and experience and get him talking about himself and his company in terms of you.
Ask “who else?” It is likely you will not be working with the CEO once your sale has been made. Ask, “Who would be in charge?” Then ask, “Are they available now?” By meeting with the lower-level person, you automatically have an endorsement.