Selling to the C-Suite

Selling to the C-SuiteI recently delivered a keynote for the Xchange Solution Provider Conference on Leading Breakthrough Sales Performance. To prepare, my team conducted focus group interviews with a group of chief information officers.

The interviews provided a very consistent perspective on selling into the C-suite and, more specifically, to CIOs.

Here’s what we found. The average CIO in our focus group:

  • Receives more than 100 inbound emails every day (and several report receiving more than 150 emails per day).

  • Experiences both “disappointment” and “frustration” during the initial sales engagement with potential vendor partners. CIOs’ main concerns: vendors’ lack of preparation and inability to differentiate themselves from competitors.

  • Feels “overwhelmed” by the sheer volume of solicitation attempts from vendors.

  • Views cold calls and cold emails with disdain. Cold contact was consistently described as the “worst possible way to gain access or attention.”

  • Leverages a network of trusted contacts and their own research when considering a new vendor, taking a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” approach.

The conclusion? The C-suite is getting even harder to access and once inside, the C-level buyer’s expectations have changed. Sales organizations have to prepare to engage differently. The traditional sales call is heading toward extinction.

The C-suite buyers we interviewed demand expertise and a very high degree of customization early in the sales cycle. In the enclosed video, I shed a little light on selling in the era of customization.

The Era of Customization from Ryan Estis on Vimeo.

How can you engage the C suite? I take a look at what a handful of the world’s best brands are doing differently in my new ebook, Leading Breakthrough Sales Performance. Download the ebook to learn from organizations like the Dallas Cowboys, HP and Mass Mutual.

Ryan Estis & Associates is a training and development organization helping companies, leaders, sales people and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy. We offer keynotes, live classroom training and online learning that blends interaction, energy and actionable content designed to elevate performance. Contact us for programming inquiries and assistance determining the curriculum that could best support your learning and development objectives.

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