We get it: c-level networking is hard especially when you’re trying to sell your company’s services and products because you know that they’ll transform the way your targets do business for the better. But no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to make any headway. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with your services or products, but that the C-Suite targets you need to win over simply aren’t interested, don’t have the time, or don’t have the budget to work with you.
However, there’s a knack to c-level networking. Here are our top tips for C-suite engagement and converting your target accounts.
In-Person? Don’t Start with the Sell
We can’t stress this enough: don’t start with the sell if you’re meeting someone in person for the first time at a c-level networking event. At the end of the day, when you engage with a member of the C-Suite you’re talking to another human being – treat them like one!
People who are new to networking can find it a little daunting, but just because you’re nervous it doesn’t mean you need to get in, attempt a sell and get out as quickly as possible. Instead, start a conversation with your target. If you can connect on a personal basis, it’s more likely that your target will remember, respect and vouch for you and your services later.
Do Your Homework
Make sure that you don’t go in unprepared – do your homework on your targets. You need to know what their company does, what they do, and what their pain points might be.
This is all about creating business relevance. Your targets have precious little free time and they won’t give you any of it if you get off on the wrong foot. By understanding who your target is, what their company does and where your services might help, you can gain more from your networking opportunity.
Talk Your Target’s Language
When you first set out with C-level networking, you need to sound the part. Get to know the language your target’s use in their industry and make sure you’re familiar with jargon.
For instance, if you’re trying to connect with a CMO, you’ll need to talk about engagement, KPIs, CPAs, lead gen and more. If you’re talking to a CTO, you’ll need to talk about the cloud and infrastructure costs.
Talk to your target in their language and you’ll move the conversation forward – fast.
Work on Your Elevator Pitch
If there’s one thing that connects all members of the C-Suite, it’s that they’re limited on free time. So while you might have the opportunity to have a full conversation with a C-Level Exec at a networking event, the chances of a lengthy conversation are generally pretty slim. That means one thing: you need a phenomenal elevator pitch ready to go.
C-Level Execs appreciate brevity, so that’s why you need a great elevator pitch. Try to distil your core offering down into the key points and craft your pitch to make it as short and as sweet as possible.
Find Your Unique Voice
C-Level Execs aren’t just a target for you – your competitors and countless other businesses unconnected to your field are vying for your target’s attention every single day. To stand out from the mob, you need to find your unique voice.
Ask yourself, “Why is what I’m saying any different?” If the answer is “It isn’t different”, change your messaging. You need to inspire your target and get them excited. You can’t do that by championing the same tired concepts as everyone else.
Find the Perfect Channel for Your Target
Every target is different. They all have their own unique tastes, personalities and specialisms, so how you attempt to engage a C-Level Exec will change for every target.
Fortunately, in the digital era there are a variety of channels you can utilise to engage with your targets in the places they thrive most.
If your target is partial to a glass of wine and fine dining, then you may want to invite them to a networking event like the ones Chief Wine Officer delivers. But if they’re a social media aficionado, it might be better to engage with your target over LinkedIn. Similarly, if your target is a keen blogger, you could engage with their content and use it as a springboard to start a meaningful connection.
Be sure to try out multiple channels to see which engages your target best.
When it comes to C-suite engagement, Chief Nation’s Chairman, David Moore, encourages what he calls “polite persistence”.
C-Level Execs are busy people, making them difficult to engage the first time of asking. But if you’re persistent and have a meaningful message, eventually you’ll get through.
However, polite persistence isn’t about spamming your targets. It’s about understanding and empathy. It involves sending reminders but not hundreds of messages. It involves tailoring your message to the person and your previous interactions.