I recently presented a sales training webinar entitled Engaging the C-Suite Executive, which generated a ton of interest.
One of my sales coaching clients, Homero Herrera, President of Latin American Cargo recently began cultivating a new prospect. Homero reached out to me:
I get the feeling my prospect is interested, but we haven’t made any progress to date. He has been receptive throughout all our communications. Finally we have scheduled a telephone appointment for tomorrow afternoon. How would you approach this conversation? Any questions that come to mind?”
In these situations, your first impulse might be to ask, “How can I help you?” or “What can my company do for you?” But that isn’t always the best place to start, because the prospect often doesn’t know! You’ll come across like an uncertain customer wandering into a store, with a supercilious clerk coming up to you with a haughty “How can I help you?” If you ask a sophisticated C-level executive this question, you risk shutting down the conversation altogether; the C-level executive will show you the exit or quickly dismiss you over the phone.
I suggested to Homero that his best approach would be to focus on the needs of the prospective C-Suite executive — not his own. Begin by asking probing questions, like the ones listed below, that identify potential concerns and problems.
- Bring me up to speed on what’s been going on since our last conversation. What’s been going well? Not so well? Can you give me an example?
- Tell me about your level of satisfaction with your current situation. What concerns do you have if things remain the same?
- What are your goals over the next 6-12 months? What specifically will you have to do to accomplish them?