Sales Intent Trumps Technique

When selling to executives, asking the right questions is critical to succeed.

Getting the right answers to those questions from savvy and busy executives, however, is an entirely different proposition.

Sales people who engender trust from the C-Suite get the right answers.  They create an atmosphere where executive-level buyers feel comfortable sharing insightful, and often very personal, information so that you can help them to succeed.

This is where your intent matters more than your executive selling technique. If you want your corner office clients to be willing to honestly and openly divulge critical information, you need to genuinely want to help them succeed.  You also need to be able to play at their level.  While you certainly need to know what questions to ask and how your solutions can solve their most pressing problems, to get “difference-making” answers you must:

  1. Be Authentic.  Speak from the heart and be 100% honest.  The more honest you are, the more likely they are to be candid with you.  For example, if a client asks if you have worked in their industry before and you have not, give them a straight answer.  People want to work with people they can trust.
  2. Be Convinced. Our research shows that conviction plays a major role in believability.  Before pitching your solutions to prospective executive clients, make sure that you know how your solutions stack up against the competition and where they fit best.  Then be honest with your clients and share what you would do in their shoes.  If you are not convinced that your solutions match the challenges that they are facing, do not waste their time and risk your reputation by dancing around the truth.  Be a straight shooter.
  3. Be Selfless. Put the success of your client (and their company) ahead of your desire to close the deal.  If an executive perceives that you are not focused on what is best for them, your chances of success are slim.  Clients are looking to work with someone who can find the right solution and put their client’s personal and professional agenda first.

While these tips also apply to non-executive buyers, the importance of getting it right is magnified with senior leaders because the stakes are higher and the moments of truth are less frequent.

So before your next client call with an executive, get crystal clear about your intent before you open your mouth–because your intent is going to impact everything else that follows.