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Involve the C-suite Early to Shorten Complex Sales Cycles

Market trends across most industries are impacting sales. One of these is the heightened involvement of the C-suite in buying decisions. As VP of Business Development, I and the other members of the ML team are encountering more and more instances of executive involvement at various stages of the sales process. 

Our CEO, Lara Triozzi, explains, “We are seeing the C-suite getting a lot more involved in buying decisions. This extra level of scrutiny is due to several factors, including an increased emphasis on ROI. Complex sales traditionally have long cycles. This increase in C-suite involvement can make the time to close even longer.”

How Early Engagement with the C-suite Impacts the Sales Cycle

While they may not be a part of the front-line buying team at the beginning of the customer journey, C-suite executives are getting more involved earlier in the sales cycle than just final sign-off. 

At ML, we advise our clients to start building awareness and trust with all participants in the buying process as early as possible. We have found many sales professionals tend to only concentrate on that front-line team. But the executive with final sign-off may not be a member of that group. So as part of your Total Addressable Market research, find out who will have final sign-off and ensure you engage that individual early, too.  Creating awareness in the C-Suite helps move deals along the sales cycle through to closing.

Related Blog Post: How Email Messaging, Phone Scripts, and Great Content Enable  B2B Prospecting

By doing so, you are prepared when the head of the buying team goes to the CEO and says, “After careful research of multiple vendors, the team recommends we license this product or service we think can best help solve our problem.” Because you have already been building awareness, that CEO will recall seeing your brand and messaging and can say, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of that company. They’ve reached out to me a few times. I understand who they are and like what I’ve seen so far.” 

It’s been ML’s experience that this early engagement with the C-suite can speed up the sign-off and shorten the time to close.

"ML team members have deep experience and are really good at seamlessly building a relationship with whomever they are on the phone with. They are really good at qualifying and then actually booking the meeting.”

Senior Manager, Sales and Business Development
Medical Device Company

How to Engage the C-suite: Three Tips

1. Make sure you have identified the right individuals.

Before beginning any outreach, we recommend you take time to validate the list of contacts you have likely pulled from a data source (internal or external). In our experience, these lists are only about 70% accurate. We explain this more in our Total Addressable Market Playbook, but the two key benefits of this validation step are:

  • Your resources will be focused on the correct individuals. No time will be lost talking to people who are not interested in or need your offering or don't have final sign-off.
  • It’s a great way to warm up your target audience and start building awareness.

2. Involve your senior sales professionals.

When you engage the C-suite and other senior executives, you need seasoned professionals with the right level of sales and marketing experience. They know how to build trust and quickly show value, and they understand how to engage confidently in an intriguing manner. 

3. Build compelling messaging customized to the person you are engaging.

For example, a CEO or CFO will likely respond to different benefits than the head of IT or HR. Personalize your messaging to everyone's role and need. 

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“Whatever message I am delivering, I make sure that it’s backed up with relevant information that applies to the prospect’s unique challenges. Once I establish that I understand their needs, I can share how the product or service can fill any gaps and provide a solution."

Terri-Lynne Anderson Director of Business Development

How Technology Helps You Engage with the C-suite

At ML, we are deeply committed to keeping up with technological advancements because we have learned over our two decades how technology can improve sales.

Communication tools like MS TEAMS can help drive collaboration between your market research and sales teams which can shorten the path to engaging with the hard-to-reach C-suite. “I’ve had a team member ping me on TEAMS while they are having a preliminary validation conversation with an executive, and that person is expressing interest,” says Terri-Lynne Anderson, Sales Manager and Writer.  “Since we know the person is likely still available for a call, I immediately jump on the phone to continue the conversation while the topic is fresh in their minds. That fast intel has helped me successfully engage many times over.” 

And effectively using a CRM tool like HubSpot helps us maintain a complete view of our entire team's engagement with an individual and others within their company. 

Teresa Block, Market Research Manager says, “Everyone keeps comprehensive HubSpot notes which provide a full history of engagement with each contact. These help to ensure there is no duplication of effort or topic. Because of the research and historical data available, the team can ask more probing and meaningful questions that warm up the audience.” 

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“I look at my database on the company level and see if I've had any conversations with someone there so I can mention a name. Even if it's not a referral, I might name-drop and say, ‘I spoke with so-and-so and then realized I should reach out to you directly.’”

Heidi Hacker Senior Sales Development Specialist

Building Relationships and Trust at the Top Sets You Up for Success

We hope we have helped you see how engaging the C-suite early can shorten sales cycles and result in a more predictable sales pipeline. That executive-level relationship will also set you and your client up for a mutually successful and long-lasting relationship. 

Thanks for reading! Learn more tips about how to close complex sales

Dyan

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Author
Dyan Klein
Dyan Klein
A highly seasoned and capable business development expert, Dyan brings a vast array of talent to the MarketLauncher team including consultative selling, client relationship management, campaign strategy and execution and exceptional leadership skills.

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