02 May 3 Things to Know Before Reaching Out To A C-Level Executive
When you get the green light from a C-Level executive (‘exec’ for short), you might feel both excitement and nervousness. Executives with C-Level communication status may seem larger-than-life and unreachable. Depending on their title, they may be the face of the company, not to mention frequent attendees of meetings and high-profile events.
Feeling intimidated by them isn’t unusual. But you can cut through the tension with a few tweaks to your approach. In this post, we’ll cover three tips on how to reach out to an executive with verve and confidence.
Do Your Research When Dealing With C Level Communication
When booking meetings with execs, remember that they have little time and a low tolerance for hassles. Essentially, if they’re going to have a meeting with someone, it needs to get to the point – asap. It would be best to research who you want to meet and, more importantly, why you want to meet them. Here’s a reminder of positions associated with C-level communication.
Common C Level Communication Positions
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – Responsible for the success or failure of the organization, the CEO initiates policies designed to keep the business profitable and well-managed. That is the highest of the C-level communication positions.
- Chief Operating Officer (COO) – The COO is next in line after the CEO and is responsible for the organization’s daily operations. They act on behalf of the CEO and help create organizational policies.
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO) – The CFO’s role is to ensure that the organization’s finances are in order, including budgets, cash flow, and the supervising of financial reporting.
- Chief Creative Officer (CCO) – The CCO develops the organization’s creative design and brand strategy. They ensure that the “artistic” elements of their output and image of the brand resonate emotionally with their audience and customers.
- Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) – The CMO directs its marketing strategies, including advertising, branding, and research (i.e., product, market). They may also get involved in adopting new technology and act as a voice for the organization’s customers.
Depending on the purpose of the meeting, it will be obvious which executive you need to contact. For example, if you need to address a matter concerning an advertising campaign, then you’d want to reach out to the CMO. A budget concern would likely lead you to contact the CFO. Of course, some categories may overlap, such as branding, which both a CMO and CCO may handle. In such cases, you may reach out to both executives – the most appropriate C-Level exec will likely reach out to your first.
Come to table prepared with an understanding of who you are connecting with. Do a background check to learn about execs’ experience in and outside their current organization. That may include their accomplishments, accolades, and awards. Learning about their achievements can serve as conversation starters or “jump-off” points, which can help you establish a connection with them.
Be Flexible When Booking Time With a C-Level Communication Exec
It may sound redundant but it is important that we reiterate this: C-level execs are very busy. Every minute counts for them, and one of their pet peeves is to speak with someone who’s under-prepared.
A lack of preparation can appear in presenting half-baked ideas or strategies they wouldn’t agree to adopt. The latter would show that you didn’t do your research, which will frustrate them. However, over-preparation can stifle a conversation between you and a C-level exec. It is always better to be an active listener than to be the one doing all the sharing. The best sales people and negotiators in the world listen more than they speak.
That’s why flexibility is key here.
For example, if you want to pitch an idea to improve the quality of a product, avoid listing every point that comes to mind. Focus mainly on the big-picture questions and ideas, so there’s room for an equal dialogue exchange.
You might focus on mentioning your goals, such as “sourcing a new material” or “implementing a state-of-the-art” testing procedure you’ve discovered. Mention those goals and leave it at that. The exec will fill in the blanks, offering their insights where appropriate.
Lastly, when booking meetings with execs, don’t pigeonhole them into working at a convenient time. If you give them what seems like a time-sensitive, do-or-die-like offer, they might reject your time altogether. You’re probably going to deal with their assistant a few times, so don’t get discouraged. Remain persistent and let them confirm a time that works best for them, not for you.
Have a Plan When Booking Meetings With Execs
Executives involved with C Level communication keep their ears open for solutions to problems. Launching directly into a sales pitch might not bring value to their minds right away. It most often leads to them being turned off and they will likely try to get off of the phone with you as soon as possible. Plan your meeting around how your business or solution can address their pain points.
Make sure to support your solutions with evidence and research, using statistics, case studies, and other reports that add credence to your solution. These are the assets that persuade execs in C-level communication to adopt specific ideas.
Of course, planning involves more than writing the perfect “pitch.” It’s crucial to remember the rules of etiquette when booking meetings with execs. Professionalism is essential when contacting them.
Appointment Setting With C-Level Communication Execs
- Make sure your pitch is fully prepared beforehand
- Keep emails or social media communications concise
- Commit to staying in touch with the exec if they accept your idea
- Dress appropriately
These four tips may seem obvious, but taking them for granted can sour your reputation with an executive. “Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity”- H. Jackson Brown, Jr. Of course, you may not ruin your chances altogether, but treat the opportunity as such.
Selling to C-Level Communication Execs in A+ Fashion
Selling or proposing a solution at the C level communication differs from selling to stakeholders and managers at lower levels. Booking meetings with execs at this level is a slow burn at first, often requiring more patience to schedule them.
Ironically, when you get in the boardroom with them, you need to deliver your points fast and straightforwardly. Delivering that one-two punch of patience and precision will likely get your solution some serious consideration.
Looking to strengthen yours or your team’s communication skills with C-Suite Executives? Contact Linked Strategies to help build the relationships that build strong business connections.