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Friday Learnings: Selling to CEOs – Extra Tips

Jump on a new episode of Friday Learning where Unique's CEO, Manuel Grenacher, gives valuable tips on how to pitch and sell to CEOs.


Most CEOs have hectic and saturated schedules, with a handful of urgent matters to cope with and a couple of fires to put out. This means that selling to CEOs is extremely hard, if not impossible sometimes. 


Most CEO hire experienced and competent decision-makers to take care of purchasing matters, and they don't participate in the buying process. If you ask CEOs if they ever made a purchasing decision starting with a cold call or email, they will most likely say "no."


However, if you ask Manuel Grenacher if he's ever been on the receiving end of a great cold call with an excellent pitch, he will definitely reply "yes."


What's more, thanks to a well-performed and educated cold call, the seller has an opportunity to make a very influential ally. 


That's true, CEOs can be very reliable and powerful allies, and there's a great chance they might even become your champion.


Here are some basic rules on how to build rapport with the CEO:


  • Come prepared and learn about their company and their personal achievements. 

  • Understand the ways they communicate and what matters to them.

  • Find out about their priorities and always bring value with your pitch.

  • Ask for two references.


Let's talk more about each of these.


Come prepared 


That's a basic and, at the same time, very powerful piece of advice.


You need to take this task very seriously and learn as much as possible about the company they are running, their revenue, funding, acquisitions, and every possible achievement you can google. 


If preparation is a crucial part of any discovery and cold call, calling to CEO is double the responsibility.


Additionally, finding out as much as possible about the company and its C-suit will help you better understand their issues and predict their pain points.


Understand the ways they communicate


Pitching to CEOs is tough. But you know what is even tougher? Reaching them.


Most CEOs have a No Caller ID, they don't answer to unknown numbers, not do they listen to voice messages. 


However, cold calling is still worth a try, especially if you happen to stumble upon their direct phone number. 


Otherwise, try reaching out through email or LinkedIn. There's no guarantee you'll succeed, but if you're a cold email master, you might have a shot!


Always bring value


The CEO is the last person who needs to listen to an extensive list of your product's features and perks. You must know how to capture their attention by tackling their business issues.


Position your product as mission-critical, and explain how it will help their business flourish and prosper. 


Additionally, bring up the facts you know about their competitors, throw in some educated benchmarking, and bam! – you're a high-level professional who knows what is what in the eyes of the CEO. 


Ask for two references


If you succeed at your pitching and the CEO appreciates the value that you brought with your solution, – you have a powerful ally and even a possible champion. If you don't succeed, you will have to try to reach out to other people from the company who might be more interested in your product. 


In both cases, however, ask the CEO to provide you with two references. 


Connecting to other companies through the CEO referral is a lot easier than through cold calls and cold emails. What's more, a lot of CEOs might want to help you with new prospective leads if they like you and your proposition.


So never turn your back on the chance to get your hands on some warm or even hot leads through CEO reference.


Selling to CEO Can Be Both Challenging and Productive


In the end, CEOs are people like you and me with their interests, pain points, hobbies, and grievances. If you strike the right chord with them, you will get a chance to make a very powerful connection. And if you don't, well... nothing extraordinary or apocalyptic will happen. You will just have to move on to other contacts and leads. 

Written by

Hanna Karbowski