Getting time with executives is increasingly difficult. When we do get in front of an executive, what’s the best way to conduct the conversation? For most of us who have been trained in “consultative selling”, we will strive to ask intelligent questions in order to get information that will enable us to better position our problem. Unfortunately, a problem with this approach is that almost everyone is now doing it.
This means that not only are you not differentiating yourself, it’s much worse. You are actually wasting the executive’s time. Just think, if you are the third sales person this executive has seen, he or she has spent up to 3 hours meeting with salespeople who have extracted information from him or her without any receiving any value. All three of you have promised to come back in the near future with your proposed solution to the problem. However, the executive has just wasted 3 hours in the hope that at least one of you will actually come back with something of value.
As a result of this trend, executives are becoming reluctant to grant time to salespeople. If you are able to get in front of an executive, what’s the best way to conduct the meeting?
Follow these four steps:
PUSH the Executive
P – Provocation. According to Harvard Business Review, the best way to engage customers and prospects is to provoke them. This is reinforced with The Challenger Sale. What’s so powerful about this approach is provocation is how you can break through preoccupation. The best way to provoke your prospects is to be an expert. You can’t be an expert in the prospect’s business. In fact, positioning yourself as an expert in your prospect’s business will do more to cause you lose credibility than to gain it. What you can do, however, is be an expert in your prospect’s industry. What trends are taking place in the industry that your prospect may or may not be aware of? What are they doing about these trends?
U – Unsafe. Show your prospect how the increasing momentum of this trend makes life unsafe for your prospect. This stimulates the amygdala and focuses your prospect’s attention on the issue at hand.
S – Safety. Let your prospect know that you have successfully helped similar prospects deal with these trends and led them to a place of safety. Give them an exciting vision of what’s possible!
H- Hero. Tell your prospect a story about how one of your customers successfully dealt with this issue and became a hero in the process. Check out my YouTube video on Storytelling in Sales.
The next time you schedule a meeting with an executive, prepare to give them a gentle PUSH. You’ll differentiate yourself from all the salespeople trying to be consultative, more importantly, you’ll earn the right to do a proper and thorough discovery and your discovery efforts will have the full support of a new executive sponsor.