Can Your Sales Team Get Executive Buyers to Say Yes?

April 09, 2015    |    David Mears

If your company is like most, more than ever, its success depends on whether your sales team can lead business outcome conversations with C-level and line-of-business executives.
This is especially true if your company sells any kind of technology. Need proof? Consider these facts: 

  • By the end of the decade, more than 90 percent of technology spending will come from outside of IT organizations, up from 20 percent in 2000. (Source: Gartner1
  • C-level and line-of-business executives are currently spending the same amount of time in “IT pre-purchase” activities as their IT staffs. (Source: IDC2)

If your sales team isn't prepared to confront this new reality and interact successfully with executives, you'll likely lose opportunities to grow your pipeline, shorten sales cycles, and increase deal size.


What's the biggest challenge when selling to executives?

Unlike technical staff buyers, line-of-business executives don’t want to discuss the features and benefits of your technology — often the things salespeople are most comfortable talking about.  

Instead, executives want to engage in thought-provoking conversations about how to address the business challenges that keep them awake at night.


Ask yourself, "Can my sales team engage executive-level buyers in compelling business conversations?" 

Can they connect your company’s solutions with executive-level concerns? Concerns like how to... 

  • Reduce costs while managing risks
  • Repair or streamline critical business processes
  • Develop a defendable competitive advantage
  • Improve cash flow and returns on fixed assets

If you want your sales team to close larger deals more quickly, you'll need to equip them with the skills and tools to lead business-focused — rather than product-focused — conversations with executives.


Traditional sales training often fails to prepare people to make the “executive connection.”

Too often, sales training focuses on persuasion, rather than conversation. It emphasizes the formal presentation of products and solutions, rather than how to lead two-way conversations about business outcomes.

Most of the sales organizations Mandel has worked with decided that their sales teams needed a better approach to capturing the attention of executive buyers.

Imagine if your organization, too, were able to radically improve its approach to sales training and focus on readying sales reps to achieve the following:

  • Win an executive's attention within the first two minutes of any “Moment of Truth” interaction
  • Build credibility and trust through observable executive presence
  • Ask thought-provoking, business outcome-oriented questions
  • Respond in-the-moment to tough questions from executive buyers
  • Plan for and lead business outcome conversations that motivate line-of-business executives to support your proposals


Interested in learning more about how to better connect with executives?

Watch this 3-minute Harvard ManageMentor® video featuring Mandel's Brad Holst: Three Principles to Win Executive Approval





1 http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2208015

2 http://www.idc.com/eagroup/download/accelerating-new-buyers-journey.pdf