The top priority of sales leaders is to enable their teams to be successful which often includes helping close deals. While the goal still remains true in 2020, the process of closing deals looks a bit different this year.
From new budgeting challenges to parties being brought into the sales process that sales teams may not have interacted as regularly, the standards and status quo of previous years doesn’t quite ring true.
Here’s how to move forward and engage your new buyers for 2021.
Expect to Engage the C-suite
C-Level executives are among these new participants in attendance. On the buying side, the C-Suite is joining calls at an unprecedented rate of 108% higher than they were in January. But why? Before a deal can cross the line into closed-won territory, it likely has to cross a CxO’s desk now that businesses are keeping tighter budgets and watching spending more closely due to the pandemic. Reps should anticipate C-Suite involvement and prepare to speak in terms these executives will understand and appreciate.
Each executive has their own set of priorities and values for the company, so learning to speak to their unique needs and wants is a skill reps should practice. For example, CEOs and CFOs spend their time managing, analyzing, and presenting data in a way that yields the greatest value for the business. They spend 42% more time viewing demos than technical CXOs so reps should keep this in mind when communicating ROI and value. Knowing the executive’s preferred methods of communication along with who the customers’ customers and bosses are can help reps convey the value of their product in ways that are meaningful to the key decision-makers.
Preparing for the Meeting
Bringing a deal over the line looks different for different market segments. Each segment requires a unique sales process and level of critique. Sales reps should use real sales call data to learn which deals are likely to involve a C-level executive and come prepared to speak with one even if they aren’t expected to attend the meeting. CXOs join meetings while not being on the invite about 10% of the time so it’s best practice to anticipate one even when it’s not expected or shared they will be joining beforehand. It’s also best to have a plan for the call that can easily incorporate additional parties.
Setting a clear agenda before meetings with members of the C-Suite gives prospects a good idea of what to expect on the call while also giving execs an opportunity to provide input. This small detail can lead to assessable improvement to stage conversion. Knowing what is top priority on the other end gives reps time to prepare messaging that speaks directly to their needs.
Team leaders should train their reps on how to introduce the “new buying process” directly over a discovery call with follow up questions about timing, budget, priorities, etc. so they are prepared for whoever may be on the call. Taking these steps beforehand can expedite the decision on a deal even when buyers are practicing extreme caution in making spending decisions since the market is volatile.
Embrace the Change: Engaging the C-Suite leads to higher win rates
C-Suite executives join calls with the goal of ensuring they’re investing in the best solution for the company’s needs. It’s the sales rep’s job to discover these needs and communicate the value of not only the product but also the partnership.
While some may believe a C-Level executive would rather serve as an executive sponsor for a deal, if they are joining the call, they are there for a reason and should be thoughtfully engaged. Asking them questions and getting helpful insights about the business leads to a more productive conversation and has proven to pay off.
Two trends are prevalent in deals that close:
1) CXOs talk 8.5% more;
2) Reps ask an average of five engaging questions to get the conversation going.
So what does this mean for sales reps? Get the C-Level executives talking when they’re on the line but also resist the urge to ask unnecessary questions just to ask them something. Reps should aim to make these participants feel understood, not interrogated. These executives want to be heard, not to be told what they need.
By understanding how to best lead the conversation and engage the CXO, you will be more likely to close the deal and make a lasting impression.
Yes, closing deals looks a bit different this year with more C-Suite executives getting involved, but it does give AEs and SDRs an opportunity to sharpen their selling skills in different scenarios. Reps are growing by interacting with people they don’t normally get to and learning to adjust their messaging to speak to their needs.
Sales reps should always prepare and anticipate that they will be selling to the C-Suite and when they do, they need to remember to get them talking and create an engaging conversation to close the deal. And, of course, research ahead of time. Preparing, persisting and remaining relevant is important to getting your deal over the line efficiently in any sales environment. Remember: the best answer a sales person can get is ‘yes’ and the second best is a quick ‘no.’