What Do You Talk About in the C Suite?

Peady’s Selling Engagement

Recently a friend of mine was at a presentation by the CEO of a medium sized company. During the Q&A he was asked how salespeople got to meet with him, he replied “don’t worry about getting the meeting, worry about what to say when you do, because 90% of meetings I take are a waste of my time“. Ouch!

Welcome to this week’s post on sales and selling success.

How about you. Have you ever been successful in gaining a meeting with a senior level executive (MD or CEO) and after 10 minutes they refer you to someone lower in their company? 

Why does this happen? 

Simple answer, you didn’t talk their language!

You’ve come across like the operational or subject matter expert and CEOs employ those guys to do that stuff for them. You appear as though you aren’t interested in or don’t understand the ‘executive’ business problems they have. 

Dealing with senior management initially doesn’t require a product or solution discussion, well not in the early stages of the conversation. But too many sales people talk about their ‘favourite
subject’ too early – their company, their product, themselves!

Someone once described this as ‘show up and throw up’. Senior managers hate it, and ‘C’ level executives will get you out of their office quick smart. I know CEOs that have a pre-organised call to ‘interrupt’ a meeting at 10 minutes in case it isn’t going well. 


What’s the answer? 

Simple. Don’t talk about your company or your product unless asked, and then only respond to a specific question. 

Ask insightful questions of the prospective customer. Questions based on your due diligence. Get them talking about themselves, their company, their problems or growth strategies. The French military leader Napoléon Bonaparte knew a thing or two about selling questions when he said: “why and how are words so important that they cannot be too often used”. So, use them – ensure you include plenty of why, what, how, who, when, where type questions. 

And when you have asked your questions and start talking, executives want to hear how you can help to solve the business problem they have. Not buy what you’re selling.

​Until next week, good questioning!

About the author 

Stephen Pead is a media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in direct sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in helping SME’s market their businesses more effectively and providing training for salespeople and sales managers.

He can be contacted at [email protected]