Selling in the C-suite w/ Chris Chapman

Chris Chapman is executive director at Capital Analytics and the founder and host of the Next Level Minds podcast. Chris has been doing sales since he was a kid when he went door-to-door trying to sell services that might help the busy homeowners in his neighborhood. In his first post-college job in IT staffing, he learned how to  build relationships with IT managers, CTOs and VPs. Then he transitioned into his current role with Capital Analytics, which publishes local business magazines. He project manages the development of each publication in his region, but he also then sells digital ads and event sponsorships to CEOs who are featured in the publication.

Getting the CEO’s Attention

It’s not easy to immediately get in touch with a CEO. Chris learned the hard way that you need to build relationships with the gatekeepers around the CEO. Treating the admin staff like the enemy isn’t going to get you very far. If you’re trying to reach the CEO of a smaller company– say 50 people or less– you can sometimes get lucky by dialing directly very early in the AM or after 5:00 PM and they’ll answer their own phone. With larger companies, there are likely to be more touch points before you can reach the CEO. Be prepared to talk to at least 4 to 5 people before you win that call. When cold calling doesn’t work and you need to do a drop by, you have to go in with confidence and kindness. Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and the CEO will have a moment to meet; if not, you can leave behind a business card and a good impression. 

When you’re dealing with busy CEOs, you have to build rapport and add value quickly. Before he makes a cold call, he does all the research to learn everything he can about the CEO. He looks for mutual connections, finds out where they went to school, what other companies they’ve worked for, etc. He also taps into his network of other CEOs that he’s worked with and exploits the FOMO effect. “This CEO is getting in on this opportunity. I’d hate for you to miss out on this.” 

Building Rapport

It’s important, however, not to lead with rapport-building strategies. In fact, Chris and Anthony both agree that you have to lead with why you’re calling. Get the point across about what you’re trying to sell. Once they’re warm to the idea, then you can work on building an authentic, personal connection. As he gathers rapport-building information about the prospect, he tracks every detail in his CRM. So when a CEO says she’s gotta go because she has a tee time, he makes a note in the CRM that indicates the CEO has an interest in golf. Next time they meet, Chris can reference that in their conversation. For reps who aren’t great at CRM management, he suggests putting rapport notes in the calendar invite to keep track. 

Once you get that meeting with a CEO, Chris says selling to them is not much different than selling to a lower level executive. People are people. No matter who you’re selling to, it’s about building relationships with a person and helping find the proper solutions to the problems they experience. That really doesn’t change based on the size of the company or the title of your prospect. And no matter who you’re meeting with, pay them the respect of being prepared and dressing for success.

Getting Feedback

Chris always asks his prospects to rank on a scale of 1 to 10 how strongly they are considering his offer. He’s essentially immediately asking for feedback, and he’s open to accepting it whether it’s good or bad. When he has that information, he asks what’s holding them back from getting to a 10. That arms him with the information he needs to get them closer to a deal.

Chris’ Next Level Minds podcast is a top-ranked business podcast that has been listened to in over 45 different countries. The podcast is dedicated to those who want to reach a massive next level in their career, business, or personal life. He interviews people who are successful in a variety of fields– founders, entrepreneurs, athletes, authors. He asks them to share their journey to success. He’s learned two important things about successful people. First, they remain humble, no matter how successful they become. When you lose that, you sometimes lose the habits that got you to success in the first place. The other thing he has learned is that the most successful people never stop learning. They all have an insatiable desire to learn and to be masters of their craft, no matter what that might be.

Chris Chapman on LinkedIn

Next Level Minds podcast

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