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Why You're Uncomfortable Talking to the C-Suite

Why You’re UnComfortable Talking to the C-Suite. Here are 2 Reasons

My first question is why are you talking to the C-Suite? Sounds like an obvious answer to the question…Right? But is your reason the right reason to be pitching to the C-Suite?

Meet John Doe. (his real name is protected in order not to embarrass him!) He contacted me last year after an embarrassing sales call. John, an eager account executive for a software company, shared his painful experience with me, wincing over Skype as he shared the details.

Anxious to impress his new boss, John decided to go straight to the top during a cold call attempt on a new account his new boss gave him. There was no email, phone call or warm introduction to help pave his way to the C-Suite. He hadn’t sold anything to this new account. The former account executive told John, the VP’s approval was needed for all sales. 

In his zeal to impress, John made a bold decision to go straight to the VP.

And on that day John found himself standing in front of the VP…nervous and intimidated.

“Hi Mr. Hemmer, I’m John Doe from XYZ Company. I just came from ABC company across the street and thought I’d stopped in, introduce myself and see how things are going here. Since I’m here, I’d be happy to help you with your software needs.”

The VP looked up from his computer and said..

”Is that right? Well what I need is for you to leave and not come back.”


So obviously, this is a story (a true one at that) which illustrates a rookie selling attempt. What’s more shocking is this AE is not a rookie. Often times even veteran sales professionals will take shortcuts.

Preparing before every sales call is essential to the strategic success of the call. But so is preparing yourself to be psychologically ready.

If you’re feeling intimidated or uncertain…this points to a bigger problem…What are you doing there? Chances are you have not properly prepared yourself by following the sales process and/or readied yourself psychologically.

When You Feel Intimidated

As the old saying goes-remember this when standing in the C-Suite office with the plush carpet, mahogany, hand-carved desk, staring eyeball to eyeball with the high-level executive wearing a $3,000 suit……

he put his pants on one leg at a time…just like you.

In other words, see him as another human being. Relate to him on a human level. You’re selling human to human.

Is he just one of the guys-of course not. However, if you focus on his prestige, position, wealth and social ranking, you will succumb to intimidation. Just remember he is a man or woman behind the prestigious position.

Keep in mind this important point: you’re in the important position to help him with his needs through your proposal offer.

In order to do that, you need to know everything there is about him, as a person. I often find this information out by talking to the company’s sales team. Salespeople will help salespeople…eagerly, I might add.

When you go into a sales call knowing quite a bit about the person you’re meeting, you have the edge and will reduce your nervousness about meeting with a C-Suite executive.

When You Feel Uncertain

So why are you now standing in the C-Suite? Of course to gain approval on your proposal. That’s what you need and want.

How about the VP? It may not be what he needs or wants. He’s thinking

why are you here taking up my extremely valuable time?”

If you can’t answer that question before you meet with Mr. VP, chances are your uncertainty will show up as nervous.

To reduce your uncomfortable feeling, YOU need a valid business reason to meet with Mr. VP.

So ask yourself, what is the role of Mr. VP? At that level, I wrote in my article, Are You Absolutely Sure You’re Talking to the Decision Maker?

  • This person’s role is for a specific sale objective not for an account.
  • Often this person is in a senior management role
  • And is paid well for the ability to see into the future of the organization.

If you can present knowledge to Mr. VP that will contribute to his way of doing business or add value to his corporate goals, then you have a valid business reason for contacting him.

Many new account executives make the wrong assumption that a VP or C-Suite person knows everything. This is a very wrong assumption. In most cases, C-Suite executives know less than you do about your industry…it’s just not their forte. BUT it is your forte! It’s not uncommon for C-Suite executives to be generalists. 

If you focus on the value your proposal can add to Mr. VP’s position and goals, he will want to listen to you.

Next Step

Next week’s article will delve even deeper into

  • What Mr. VP doesn’t want
  • 6 steps to determine your one sales objective for the C-Suite.

Last, if you often call on C-Suite executives, I’d love to read your suggestions on how to work with the C-Suite. Just share your thoughts in the comments below!

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