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Executive Buyer Criteria - 3 07/18/2017

To sell to senior level executives, you need to understand their motivation for even meeting you. Most salespeople are losing potential opportunities in their very first meetings with senior executives. In fact, Forrester Research tells us that only 10% of reps in the U.S. are successful at getting a follow-up meeting with executive buyers. In other words, 90% of these first meetings FAIL.

Why is this happening? According to Forrester Research, salespeople who are calling on high-level executive buyers are less aligned with the decision-making process than ever before. The research also shows that executive buyers are looking for a particular type of value when it comes to the conversations that they have with vendors. For them, value is defined by three key attributes. If you want to peak interest with your senior-level buyers, you need to focus on the following in your sales process:

Action Oriented Communication

Executive-level buyers value clear, action oriented communication. They want to meet with salespeople who exhibit a clear understanding of their business issues and can articulate how to solve them. Many salespeople are not prepared to have conversations focused on the challenges of their buyers because their primary agenda is to pitch a product. Executive buyers do not care about a product or service unless it’s part of a solution for solving a problem.

Help solve a business opportunity or problem

The natural response of both salespeople and buyers is to jump towards a solution without really understanding the root cause of the challenge it should solve. Executive buyers value repeatable and proven approaches to solving their business issues. They want information and knowledge that show them how to systematically address the root of their business challenges across functions and processes, instead of simply treating symptoms in silos. Note: just because you can accurately pinpoint a problem and offer a solution doesn’t mean that buyer hasn’t heard it before…do your homework, add value, be creative!

Outside the Box Thinking

Executive buyers are looking for insightful ideas that will change their view of a problem or opportunity. Information about your products and services can easily be found on the internet, so they likely know as much about your product as you do, as most have done their research well before your first meeting. Where executives struggle is at identifying the barriers that stand in the way of executing their initiatives. They take the meeting with new vendors in hopes of finding fresh and unique insights to solve problems in new ways. Only when a salesperson can share thoughtful ideas that haven’t already been considered will an executive buyer start to value your role in their sales process.

Helping your customers “buy” is all about having empathy for their challenges. Salespeople need to better align their conversations with their buyers’ expectations in order to drive key account growth. They need to be equipped with the right buyer-centric skills, knowledge, behaviors, technology, and messaging/content in order to meet executive-level expectations of value.

Sales organizations should be training their team as much on the types of business challenges faced by their customers as they do on product knowledge. How else can they be expected to have these conversations? If your account strategy is to expand into an account by addressing the business challenges of its executive buyers; good for you! Just don’t expect successful execution without first closing the gap in buyer empathy and executive selling skills.

Resource: Forrester Research Report – “What Do Executive Buyers Find Valuable?”

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