Selling to Intimidating People- C Level Executive Selling and the Art of Applied DISC: Part Two

By Shanna Bennell on November 02, 2016

Dr. Bradley Smith of PeopleKeys shares advice from his years of experience working with and selling to C level executives.


C level executives can be intimidating. C stands for Chief, and these people are the company’s decision makers, it’s movers and shakers. They’re the ones in charge. They have the authority and desire to give a quick thumbs up or down to an idea or product, and they can determine and change the trajectory of their business at a moment’s notice. It’s been said that you only have one chance to make a first impression. With the C level executive, they are not only going to be assessing you, but what you are selling and the merits of your  services or product all within this initial interaction. They don’t have time for multiple meetings. They don’t need to consult anyone. They don’t need to go to committees or look at budgets, etc. to gain approval. They decide. And they are BUSY. Don’t waste their time.

They must believe you are a time saver, not a time waster.

This can make this group of people feel particularly inaccessible and intimidating. But ultimately, speaking in front of 5000 vs. 50? It’s the same thing.

Dr. Bradley Smith of PeopleKeys  has condensed his years of experience in selling to this group into 13 main ideas. To sell to a C level executive, you must focus on what Dr. Smith calls “The ABCs of Selling to C Level Executives.” Part two of this series (F through N) can be read below.  You can read part one  (A through E) here.

Fewer Slides: Think about the type of slide presentation you might want to have when you are hosting a face to face meeting. Model your presentation after something you would want to see. Keep it succinct. Don’t put more than three bullet points on a slide. Incorporate interesting images and contemporary design. Stick to just a few slides. These slides need to be more about their company and  its needs and how you will create solutions to meet their needs. Think about putting your last slide first. What is the end result of what you are presenting? Start with that so you can grab their attention and maintain their focus, and then return to it to increase retention and drive your point home.

Gist–  What is the general gist of your presentation? Give them the main idea of your presentation immediately  without a lot of preamble.  Keep the conversation on the subject, use persuasive language, focus on their company’s needs, and keep it brief and straightforward.

Hone in on the target cost – Don’t be cheap. Don’t focus on price, but be prepared to give a range. Focus on Return On Investment. Statements like,  “I can guarantee you will see a return on your investment in xxxx days, weeks, months, etc.” SELL SOLUTIONS to C level. Never sell products.

Integrity– Don’t pretend to be an expert when you are not. We are happy to partner with you. Also, it may be helpful to find out who you might be involved with on their end. Share who you might pull in, share who has been working partners with you before. You can use Peoplekeys as examples if you are a certified consultant. Make sure they see you as an expert. Add certification to your resume.

Just (K)lose – Don’t be afraid to close. These people know why you are there. Don’t insult their intelligence or be afraid to ask with confidence. Close with directed questions like “If we can provide the solution within your budget, what time frame would you like to see this implemented within?”

Leave them in Control –  The C level executive probably has a primary D style personality, and hates to feel like they are being taken advantage of. Make sure your C level client always feels in control. Understanding personality and the PeopleKeys D4 will help you do this.  The best thing in the world is by the end of the meeting the C level Exec  feels like they came up with the idea and you are the one who they trust can accomplish this.

Make it Personal– Always make sure they believe the solution is tailor made for them. Discuss what their company needs with them, negotiate ways in which your products can be customized to fit these needs. With PeopleKeys you can do this.

Nothing to it –  Focus on continuity. No one wants to implement something new that is time consuming and creates more work. Plan how your services/solutions can be part of their existing initiatives.

About the Author: Shanna Bennell

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