If you’re currently marketing to C-Suite executives and other senior decision makers, you already know how hard it is to generate the sort of sales pipeline that could yield six to seven figures for your organisation. 

The difficulty comes in building credibility for your brand, establishing trust with the C-Suite and delivering value before ever trying to sell them anything.

In this article I want to shine some light on a huge mistake that most marketers make when connecting with senior decision makers.

It involves the positioning of your message, attachments to your brand and how being independent is the key to fixing this problem.

Before we dive into this let’s take a look at how selling to the C-Suite is different from your average sales process. The key lies in doing the exact opposite of how most selling is done.

What you can learn from the top C-Suite salespeople

We’ve spent a huge amount of our time studying and interviewing top performing salespeople, especially those who close high ticket deals by targeting the C-Suite directly.

These salespeople all share certain characteristics that make them perform in this way.

They cultivate high levels of self-belief, always engage at a senior level and generate three to four times more revenue than their core performing peers.

The most interesting thing about them is that they perform in the complete opposite way to most salespeople.

To understand this we need to break a sale down into four basic questions. These questions need to be answered before a buyer is ever ready to do business with you:

  1. How does it work?
  2. What are the benefits?
  3. What is the business case?
  4. Why should I trust you?

Most salespeople sell in that exact order, from one to four, always beginning with what it is they’re actually selling before trying to build a case for the business or even establishing some level of trust.

What the most successful C-suite marketers do is quite the opposite, starting at step four and working backwards to step one.

When selling to a senior level you need to establish trust, credibility and build a business case first.

When selling to the C-Suite your product and brand are distractions to them. This matrix illustrates the model we’ve just covered:

C-Suite Marketing Matrix

Looking at this model it’s clear that the two most important factors in selling to the C-Suite are value and trust, the latter being most important to begin with. 

So how do we build trust with senior level executives? The best way of doing this is to position yourself as a truly independent entity.

Building trust & delivering value by being independent

When engaging with senior decision makers, this principle is at the core of everything you do. 

Independence comes from endorsements of third parties, the people you bring forward to meet your target senior decision makers and the clients you work with.

When you communicate from the perspective of a seller it’s difficult to achieve true credibility because you lack this sort of independence.

You can get over this hurdle by using an independent entity to endorse your message.

The best way to do this is by creating an exclusive club. This club positions you as a credible solution to the specific business problem that your target prospects are suffering from.

It’s positioned in a way that delivers true value upfront, bringing your target C-Suite executives into an environment that builds trust quickly.

By creating this environment, you create face-to-face relationships that are established on trust first.

It allows you to find what challenges and pains your prospects are trying to overcome. From here you can create a business case that aims to solve those business critical challenges.

Conclusion

We’ve just scratched the surface on the trust and value principles of C-Suite Marketing, but this is by far the most important one.

Everything you do rests on the foundation of an independent entity. From here you can invite them into a personal setting, deliver value in the form of insights and angle it from the perspective of your value proposition.

Tom Whatley

Published 14 November, 2014 by Tom Whatley

Tom Whatley is Head of Growth at Seraph Science and a contributor to Econsultancy. He blogs here, and you can find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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