Sales people and account managers, as well as their managers, have always appreciated that a critical success factor for building a sustainable business is to develop strong relationships with the senior executives in their accounts. Nevertheless, those same sales people and account managers acknowledge the difficulties in doing this consistently.
Last week we presented the first of a series of articles on challenges of engaging with Executives. In Common Challenge #1: Following an efficient and effective approach to connecting with the C-suite, especially when under time and sales pressure, we provided tips on how to identify and research Executives at your accounts. In the second article of the series, we’re diving into how to connect with Executives and build long-lasting relationships.
COMMON CHALLENGE #2: GETTING TO EXECUTIVES AND BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS
Building and maintaining strong relationships with executives seems to be a skill that account executives understand and appreciate, yet very seldom do. Frankly, we find that the focus on closing quarterly deals and hitting short-term targets is the primary reason many managers won’t provide the time and coaching that account executives need to develop skills in engaging with CXOs. The key is balancing the necessity of hitting short-term goals with developing relationships that lead to long-term growth.
A major challenge for account executives is meeting with the CXO for the right reasons. You don’t simply want to book a meeting – you want to book the right meeting. CXOs are naturally accustomed to viewing suppliers’ account executives as sales people. Therefore, when they receive meeting requests, they’ll often delegate them to someone else in their company, ignore them or take the meeting expecting to hear about your latest devices. The key here is to propose to the Executive upfront that in the meeting you discuss issues strategically important to them. Again, leverage your existing contacts. Can someone offer you insight about the CXO’s urgent challenges? With this knowledge, you can determine what new information or connections you can provide.
Be clear in your request, whether it is an email or phone call. Let the CXO know that you want to bring new insight or help her connect to a valuable person to address her strategic issues. Having your CXO’s best interest in mind will only help you in forming a Trusted Business Partner relationship.
In the next article in this series, we will address a third common challenge:
Common Challenge #3: Identifying and Capturing Opportunities
What are the short and long-term opportunities that you can capture using the CXO Engagement process and tools?
We hope this article has provided you with some insight to help you through your own challenges in engaging CXOs. What other challenges have you faced in building relationships with CXOs? How have you overcome them?