Imagine you are a CEO or CFO of a business getting a call from an unknown number. The number belongs to a sales rep who seems to be a bit vague about his offering and gives you very tentative answers. They focus more on selling their products and services rather than on your business growth. They don’t seem to care about elevating your customer experience and keep diverting the conversation to making a sale quickly. Soon you realize that you have been speaking for five minutes and still don’t know how their offering will help your business thrive.
Do you continue speaking to them amidst your busy schedule? Or do you ask them to speak to some authority on a lower rung of your business before approaching you again?
Chances are that you disconnect their call and await an update from your peers after speaking to the sales professional.
This shows poor sales prospecting plan and a lack of professional selling skillswhich prevents sales rep from having CXO conversations. To create a good impression on the directors of a company and progress to the C-level executives, the sales rep must have better conversations.
By initiating CXO conversations, they can impress their clients and win more deals. This will create better first impressions and your dynamic selling skills will help you retain the attention of top-tier customers.
An insurance agent, in his early thirties, shared the art of having CXO conversations that he learnt only recently.
Speaking in a new language
Learning to have CXO conversations was like learning a new mother tongue for me. I was a sales professional in an insurance firm and we used to offer plans to reputed businesses. I had to speak to high-level CEOs almost every day to ensure customer success process goes smoothly and close the deal. It took me time to convince them to take up our insurance plans for their entire team.
One of my biggest concerns while prospecting was getting stuck with the receptionist during my cold calls. Most CEOs would assign an assistant to attend their calls and accept only important ones. Speaking to a sales rep let alone an insurance agent was the lowest of their priorities.
If I spoke to the receptionist as a sales rep, my value wouldn’t get registered. She would never transfer my call to the higher authorities thinking I am not a certified sales professional. She would mark me as a spam caller or leave me on hold until I gave up and disconnected. To connect with the CEOs, I had to speak in their tongue and increase my standards.
What was the solution?
A simple strategy I devised was to address the CEOs by their names. When my calls were answered, I wouldn’t say, “May I speak to your manager please?”
I learned to say, “Hi, is Mark available for a quick chat right now?” This made a huge difference as the familiarity in my tone made it sound like I already knew the person. My calls would get escalated as the PA would think I had previously spoken to their CEO and we were on a first-name basis.
Another method I used was after my call got connected with the CEOs or CFOs of the company. I would jump right to business rather than casually asking, “Hello sir, how’s your day going? Hope your day is going as bright as mine!”
It would waste their time and honestly, they would never admit it even if their day was going rough. If I began the call with, “Greetings, Mark. I am an insurance agent who is sure to create an impact on your business. Would you like to join hands with me to put your employees first?”
This shows how much I care despite not even knowing the person. The way I have phrased the question also puts him in a spot as he can’t say no to putting his employees’ interests first. It would help me move another step towards closing the deal as the CEO would have to respond in the affirmative no matter what.
After this, it was simple as I could fix an appointment and begin pitching my plans to the client at my pace. I have been recognized as a certified sales professional and the deal is already half-sealed with my confidence!
How can you have better conversations to reach higher standards?
A good high-level conversation makes your customers remember your chat and think it over during the day. It makes them
- Feel a connection with your brand
- Excited to dig deeper into your offering
- Visualize your partnership and the consequent benefits
- Trust you enough to keep talking
- Think about what you are pitching to them even after the call is done
To achieve this, you need to speak in a language that aligns with decision-makers and resonates with them. C-level executives speak to several people each day but your conversation must stand out to them. You must differentiate your brand as they need to be impressed enough to continue speaking to you. Here’s how you can achieve this:
1. Always aim high
Even if you are a low-level executive, aim higher in the sales funnel and have the confidence to take important calls. You need clarity to speak to senior professionals and make them want to introduce you to their peers. Have the confidence to have higher-order conversations by speaking to people on top of the ladder.
If you call a non-executive at the business, they can only recommend you to people who make the final decisions. You need to speak to people at higher levels if you wish to win deals faster. Convince your team that you have what it takes to speak to people above your standards even if you are just a fresher.
2. Do your research
The best way to market better is to do your research. Figure out what your client does and what solutions they might need to look more professional. It is often viewed as a lack of respect and professionalism if you start your calls with “So tell me a bit about your business. How may we help you?”
This is a polite conversation starter, but doesn’t indicate your professional selling skills. It makes it sound like you just dialed a random number without knowing anything about the other person. Do your research and go for something like “I was scrolling through social media when I came across your brand. I was very intrigued, but noticed that…. And though I could help you by…”
See the change in approach here? It cuts to the chase and indicates that you know enough about the other person. At the same time, you are open to discussing further and probing the client to speak more. This will help you deliver a personalized solution for their unique problems.
3. Respect their culture
Check your sales funneland understand the cultural background of the CXO you are speaking to. You cannot start your call with Namaste if your client is from the USA. You can’t begin the conversation with “Hi, sir” when the other person has just come out of the closet recently.
Respect your client’s culture after understanding who they are. If they are from an older generation, don’t start the call with Hi or Hey. Go for Hello or Good day. It is subtle things like this that make a difference as you are respecting their age and the generation they come from.
This will also help you determine which competitors to choose while pitching your offer to them. “I was recently speaking to a middle-aged director and realized he’s from my generation. I went for a nostalgic approach and pointed out some television ads from our young age. He immediately warmed up to me and I was able to convey the power of brand identity through those examples. We had a friendly and almost informal chat after that about “80’s kids” and what we loved,” said a sales rep from a marketing agency in Kolkata.
4. Access a sales coach
A good sales coach can offer you sales performance coaching to bring your customer success process A-game to the table. They can help you fine-tune your strengths and overcome your weaknesses to emerge as a successful sales professional. The best part is how you can approach a coach irrespective of what niche you belong to. They will help you improve yourself and know your industry better to pitch to clients confidently. It will help you learn sales skills as well as life skills to strategize and have better conversations.
Given the unpredictable market situation, it is imperative that sales professionals seek mentors and coaches to guide them. If you need sales coaching or know someone who is interested, contact us for building a more robust sales future with us.