Effective Executive Conversations

Selling professional products and services involves discussions with senior management of your prospects and customers. Executives have issues, challenges and problems on their mind and seek solutions. They do not suffer fools or naïve salespeople who push products, features and benefits.

Executives (actually, most professional managers and buyers) don’t have the time or patience to listen to mundane product sales pitches by salespeople who are not sensitive to the pressures and motivations of their world.

What’s a salesperson to do? There’s actually a proven conversation process which can be taught, practiced and effectively learned. It is powerful and nuanced blend of art and science involving 5 steps in a sales conversation that can last 10 to 20 minutes:

  1. Intro – position purpose and role (1-2 min.)
  2. Now – establish and confirm current environment (2-3 min.)
  3. Explore – posit, probe and discover challenges and issues, use Executive WhiteboardTool (3-8 min.)
  4. Why – uncover reasons, impact and effect of issues discovered (3-5 min.)
  5. Summary – review/close-out discussion and set next steps (2-3 min.)

I challenge sales teams to think and “interview” customers like a NEWS reporter. You’ll notice this conversation is not about product. It’s all about the customer and their problems. Key to this conversation is a powerful tactic called the “Executive Whiteboard.” This flexible tool can be developed and practiced for delivery in face-to-face meetings or even on the telephone. This is pre-developed framework for stimulating and facilitating a professional discussion about issues that are on the mind of your professional executive contacts, prospects and customers.

The marketplace demands best-practices for survival. Can your team consistently conduct a consultative executive conversation?