If you have a complex or high-priced offering, or just generally selling to senior decision makers, then you know how hard it can be to get time in front of the C-Suite.
Conventional inbound marketing efforts are great for generating leads, but these leads won’t necessarily generate enterprise sales. To do this, we need to first figure out how the C-Suite thinks and operates and then devise a C-Suite marketing plan to tackle this.
If generating sales pipeline from senior decision makers is part of your overall strategy then understanding their mindset is key. Let’s talk about how they think and act, then go into how you can strategically market to them.
The C-Suite Mindset
You likely have a hundred or so acquaintances that you would exchange pleasantries with if you saw them. Of them, only 25 or so you would call “friends” and a handful of those would you turn to in times of crisis.
The same goes for the C-Suite. They only let people they can absolutely trust into the boardroom. They value
relationships based on intimacy
and offer strategic value.
Therefore, the time to build a relationship with them is before they know they need you. This goes against what most sales and marketing people do, and means engaging with them all the time.
On top of this, you need to build relationships one-to-one, which means forgetting about a fragmented approach and having one point of contact guiding everything from social media engagement, email marketing and face-to-face meetings.
Finally, they need to be challenged. It gets awfully lonely at the top, and they rarely have their opinions and assumptions changed, challenged or truly confirmed.
If you can bring a new point of view to the table, in a credible way that backs facts up with analytical reports and data, then you have a much higher chance of creating this type of credibility.
The most effective way to build this kind of trust is by being the connector between a set of C-Suite executives around a core challenge that they are all trying to overcome. I’ll show you exactly what this platform looks like later in this article, but first let’s talk about what the C-Suite truly value. Once you know what they value, the easier it is for your message to be heard.
What the C-Suite truly values
As you already know, credibility is key when executing on your C-Suite marketing. Equally as important as creating trust, however, is presenting something incredibly valuable to them.
Value to the C-Suite means insight, statistics and factual information that presents a logical argument for change. You’re more than welcome to compliment this with digital content, but you need to give them a strong reason to engage in an actual discussion with you.
To do this, find a strong topic area that focuses on what the market is already saying and find a unique angle that relates to your value proposition. Build a story that uses credible sources and insight to bring a C-Suite audience in.
The value you bring to the table should also be different. Are you able to challenge them and show them that there’s a different way of doing things? Being controversial can sometimes help boost these efforts.
Once you have something worth talking about, you can create a platform to deliver this messaging, create this trust and eventually lead these C-Suite executives into real sales opportunities.
The C-Suite Marketing Platform
Now you’ve got a message, you need to find a frame to deliver this value to them. Content marketing can work, but you risk getting lost in the noise. Not to mention the lack of face-to-face engagement (or any sort of engagement for that matter). So we do this by creating clubs.
A club platform does a few things. First of all, it’s positioned as an independent entity. When you deliver your message directly, you come from the stance of a vendor and this raises the C-Suite’s guard.
A club has independence. It exists for the sole purpose of bringing C-Suite execs together to discuss the challenging issues and to deliver value.
The club also brings together likeminded people in similar roles, and gives them an opportunity to have their assumptions challenged or confirmed. They walk away with insight that they didn’t have before, and to the C-Suite this is invaluable.
Finally, the club has several elements of engagement. There’s digital content and there’s a face-to-face environment – usually in the form of a dinner – that is nurtured by one single contact from start to finish. Why a dinner? Because it gets the C-Suite outside of their working mode and into a more casual environment.
Once the dinner has taken place, this is when your follow up happens. You have everything you need to know about your target C-Suite executives and know exactly how your solution can help to serve them.
You’ve built trust, you delivered value around a pressing challenge and now you have everything you need to present a logical case for change. The kind of change that your solution can bring.
As you know, C-Suite marketing is hard. But by learning how they think, and creating a system around the methodology I’ve taught you in this article, you can dramatically speed up the time it takes to build relationships with them.
It all comes down to operating at a strategic level, as this is where senior decision makers operate. The message they value isn’t the same message you would use in your content marketing.
Instead, focus on building a relationship upfront, and learn from their challenges in an independent face-to-face environment. Once you know their pains, then you can offer them the solution – your solution.