Walking into a C-Level executive’s office to sell consultancy takes two things, competence and confidence.
Nearly all the consultants I meet have both these things in abundance when it comes to their subject area. So, what goes wrong when they get into the boardroom and try to sell?
In my experience they go into consultancy mode instead of thinking and talking like a board level executive. That positions them as an expert advisor, but not a business peer. That’s fine at lower levels in an organisation, but upstairs it’s the kiss of death. That’s why so many consultants are passed back to gatekeepers and specifiers.
Here are three things to avoid, and actions you can take instead:
- Don’t ask C-Level executives what keeps them awake at night. Instead develop a strong point of view about their industry sector. What are the big issues everyone is talking about? Why is the client likely to take the wrong approach to solving these issues? What do you think should be done differently? This allows you to discuss things as a peer.
- Don’t talk about your service, talk about their business. C-Level executives live and breathe their business. You know how parents like to talk about their children. It’s the same thing. C-Level executive are not interested in your pitch or process. They want to know about results and value.
- Don’t go toe-to-toe with the client by provoking them. Challenging the clients existing mental map takes skilful conversation – not attitude. Instead learn the dance of rapport and lead discussion with your insights. It’s a fine line, if you challenge C-Level executives heavy-handedly you’ll miss the mark get both defensiveness and resistance – not something you want from a C-Level executive.
Of course you don’t want to be doing things differently for the first time when you next meet with a C-Level executive. That’s one of the reasons my clients practice their pitch conversations and sales meetings with me. We gradually hone their messages and style until they are competent and feel confident to have the C-Level executive conversation as a peer.
To find out more about compelling C-Level conversations asm me about sales messaging and business development mentoring.
The bottom line
Get real: Talk in the boardroom isn’t the same as talk on the shop floor.
Get prepared: Think about your sales story and messaging in the context of the clients issues and opportunities.
Get savvy: C-Level executives value relationships that deliver insights aligned to the results they want.
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