Forget ‘You had me at hello'. When engaging executives, ‘hello’ is where you lose them.
During the opening minutes of conversation, executives decide whether or not to continue listening. Cut the small talk, launch the big idea.
What does success look like to him/her?
Few executives will listen to your point of view until they believe you understand and appreciate theirs.
Grab an executive’s attention early by answering the first question running through their mind: ‘why is your idea worth any money?’
Get to the point and share the financial returns you envision delivering. Cite specific P&L line items, metrics or ratios relevant to his/her area of responsibility.
Early in the sales cycle, when calling on executives your objective is to qualify and advance opportunities. Specifically, to secure customer commitment of resources to jointly build the business case for what you’re selling.
Capture an executive’s attention by weaving into the conversation:
- Non-intuitive or surprising statements
- Unusual quotes from customers, competitors or analysts
- Short, simple, credible customer stories
When you capture an executive’s attention early, you’re likely to keep it. When you don’t, well…
Indications you’ve lost your audience are when they:
- start interrupting
- start asking conversation ending questions
- stop listening
- start looking at their cell phone, watch or out the window!
Opening effective executive conversations is part art, part science. To translate your customer insight into their business curiosity, provision adequate planning time for both.
What has been your most successful opening of an executive conversation?
How do you know?