Productive sales conversations

3 Ways to Improve Your C-Level Prospecting

I saw this happen regularly during my time as a COO — well-intentioned salespeople with their minds focused on C-level sales prospecting blowing up my phone, my inbox, or my LinkedIn as they try in vain to earn a spot on my calendar. Their promise: Guaranteed solutions to help my business be more efficient, spend less money, and protect our information.

Do I want to be more efficient? Definitely. Do I want to spend less money and protect our information? Who wouldn’t?

Am I accepting their meeting requests? Absolutely not! Allow me to explain a bit more …

If it’s Important, Don’t Insult Everyone Else While Trying to Get to the Top

I’m not blind to the fact that they may actually have something relevant to the top priorities in our business, in which case I should and would meet with him. But I simply can’t spend the time BEFORE I know if this is the case (more on this later). Therefore, not only was I the wrong person to initially evaluate their potential solutions, but they also missed a terrific opportunity to learn more about our business to ensure they weren’t wasting their time or ours.

Their mistakes may have been one or a combination of several assumptions:

  • Only the C-level contact knows the information needed to uncover a sales opportunity

  • Only the C-level contact has the authority to evaluate a solution and commit the company to buy it

  • The gatekeeper is intent on keeping me from the C-level contact

This is the point where so many well-meaning salespeople fail in their C-level sales prospecting efforts. Rather than asking our executive or others in the business a few questions about our business and the issues that matter most to us, these people insist that they can only speak with me. As a result, they don’t get through to me, offend the person who could have helped them be successful, and unknowingly have their smartly worded follow-up email quickly deleted in one swift keystroke.

You Have to Know Me to Help Me

If you want C-level sales prospecting success, you’d better have something important to say. In today’s hectic business climate, decision-makers have far more priorities than time to address them. Every day, there are tasks we don’t get to.

Balls get dropped, and important issues that should be addressed don’t earn a second of our time.

So, one of the most important tasks for an executive is to make absolutely certain that the critical things (Stephen Covey referred to these as the “Big Rocks”) get done. Failing to do so can mean the difference between success and failure — and failure simply isn’t an option. With all that said, why didn’t I make an exception and talk to the C-level sales prospector this morning?

It’s simple — they aren’t taking the time to know me or relating anything they do to the big rocks in our business. And I certainly can’t afford to let one of them remain undone while I educate this person about what the big issues are.

How Can You Improve Your C-Level Sales Prospecting?

1.   Know what problems you can solve — Before you make a single call, be certain that you know what it is you are looking to uncover. You have opportunities when businesses have and care about problems you can solve.

2.   Do some research and make every call count — Even the person who answers the phone may have information that will help you understand what value you can bring. Gather information BEFORE you reach out to a decision-maker, as this person likely won’t have the time or the inclination to educate you. Understanding the top priorities and challenges for a target company can be as easy as a quick call or a little online research, but it can pay enormous dividends.

3.   Be compelling — When and if you find a meaningful business problem you can solve, share it with the targeted contact. Don’t be secretive, and don’t make crazy promises. Simply share what you’ve learned, and if it is a real business priority, securing an appointment will be the easiest part of your day. Imagine the difference in a C-Level contacts reaction when you use some generic benefit statement claiming you can help their business versus their view when you share that you’ve learned about an important initiative they have that you can help them achieve.

Whether you are calling on net new accounts, or prospecting for new opportunities within existing customers, following these steps can help you fill your pipeline with more opportunities that close at a significantly higher rate.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming you can help — KNOW you can.

Want to learn more? Axiom provides a unique alternative to traditional sales training. Unlike traditional sales training events, we embed our methodology into your sales cadence, delivering dramatically better sales results. To learn more about our Mindful Selling Methodology, Kinetics Sales Effectiveness Platform, or our unique, guaranteed approach, please visit us at

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