June 7

Getting The Door To Open: 7 Strategies to Sell Into the C-Suite


Selling to the C-Suite is just different. It requires a distinct set of relationship-building skills, a unique understanding of the individuals and level you are selling to, and an innovative approach to executing the sales strategy. 

A few years ago, I had a CEO sum it up perfectly. She shared that she did not need a sales professional who asked what kept her up at night; she needed a sales professional who knew what kept her awake and one who came prepared with the answers to help her get a good night’s sleep. 

Selling at this level demands more of you as a sales professional. It requires you to up your game and dig deeper in your understanding of your products and services and the industry you are selling into. 

The good news is that selling in the C-Suite is one of the most valuable sales experiences you will ever have. This level of selling is more about the value you bring as the sales professional than even the product you sell. When engaging with the C-Suite, you make an impact – and the impact that enhances their organization builds their teams and fattens their bottom line. 

For any sales professional, selling into the C-Suite is rewarding and confidence-building. Here are the strategies you need to get the door to open and communicate effectively with key decision-makers and the C-Suite. 

7 Strategies You Need to Sell Into The C-Suite

  1. Get Your Head Right – to sell to the C-Suite; you need to believe you belong in the C-Suite. It is your energy and confidence that C-Suite professionals will be responding to first. Doing the work you need to do to build your own belief in your products/services, deeply understand their industry, and can solve their problems will strengthen your mindset and build your confidence.

C-Suite professionals don’t want their time wasted, and they want to meet with someone who can go toe-to-toe with them. A sales professional who challenges their belief system has better ideas and solutions than they do and someone who is ready to be on their team and help them achieve their goals. 

  1. Do Your Homework – this group of professionals does not suffer fools lightly, and when you meet and engage with the C-Suite, you need to be ready – you need to be prepared. In other words – do your homework. You need to deeply understand their company, their industry, their competitors, and how the trends in the marketplace are impacting them. 

You need to be prepared to share what you know and understand and then be ready with questions to go deeper.  The research you have done and the understanding you have of their company and industry will establish trust and credibility. 

  1. Build Your Reputation – CEOs and Executives want to meet and work with those they believe are at their level and those they believe can add value to their business.   If you want that C-suite door to open and you want that Executive to meet with you, you need to ensure they have heard of you and about you. 

Your first step in selling to the C-Suite is to build your reputation in the marketplace. Where do these CEOs go for information? Whom do they talk to? What do they read? How do you get your name, reputation, and ideas in front of them?

  1. Know The Players – Gartner, one of the leading research firms, stated that before COVID, it could take anywhere from 3 to 4 decision-makers to close a deal. Post-Covid, that number is up to 10 to 12. If you need 10 to 12 decision-makers to close a deal, you need to realize you are selling not just to the CEO but most of the C-Suite and perhaps beyond.

You will need to understand who the players are who impact and can weigh in on the product or service you are selling. You need to know who they are, their role, their biggest challenges, who they can benefit from, and their level of influence. 

  1. Strategize The Call – with all the information you have gathered and the research you have done, it is time to strategize the call. Yes, you need to take charge and have a plan and layout of how you want this call to go. Again, C-Suite Executives are looking for a professional that functions at their level. One who takes charge knows what is going on and has a plan. 

When selling at the C-Suite, your sales call needs an agenda, a strong set of thought-provoking questions, and a solid close-to-position next step. You need to think about who needs to be involved from both sides and how you will position yourself and your team as experts that can add value. 

  1. Speak The Language – at this level, you are expected to act, behave, and speak like you are at the Executive Level. Acronyms – better have them down. Trends – be on top. Positions and Industry Terms – you better be able to cite the verbatim. 
  1. Leverage Relationships -and finally, to sell into the C-suite leverage relationships. There is no one Executive respect more than another Executive. A few references, a case study, or a little social proof will go a long way in helping you advance your sale into the C-Suite.

Again, I think selling into the C-Suite is one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have. It is genuinely sales at its most valuable. But to do it well and be effective, you must understand the rules and follow the strategies. Use these steps to sell into the C-Suite, and you will not only get more doors to open and close more sales, but you will also turn all this uncertainty into your most significant competitive advantage. 

Meridith Elliott Powell

Voted one of the Top 15 Business Growth Experts to watch by Currency Fair, highly engaging corporate motivational keynote speaker Meridith Elliott Powell delivers a cutting-edge message, rooted in real-life examples and real-world knowledge. Meridith’s presentations are full of powerful content, highly interactive, and fun. She helps her clients learn the leadership development, sales and business growth strategies to turn uncertainty to competitive advantage.

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