With the shift to a remote workplace, sales reps and account executives are engaging with the C-suite. From prospecting to discovery and demo calls, executives like CEOs and CFOs have become not just a name on an invite, but an active participant with plenty of questions and unique problems to solve.
Chorus.ai has seen this firsthand; our data of millions of sales calls shows C-suite participation is currently up an average of 80% compared to Q1 in months like January and February, with the executives joining 92% more meetings.
Here’s how the sales team should handle calls now that the C-suite is actively involved.
Get the Executive Talking
Sales reps must consistently practice the art of storytelling and active listening, but giving plenty of room for the chief experience officer (CXO) to speak is crucial. Our research has found CXOs talk 8.5% more in Closed-Won deals, which means reps and AEs should prioritize listening for pain points and problems rather than speak at length on something assumed.
While reps should always have researched their prospect, reviewed notes and call recordings, you don’t need to have a laundry list of talking points that can make the discussion feel sterile and cold. Let the conversation flow and seek out moments of engagement to get the CXO speaking freely. We’ve found, as a best practice, deals that progress have most often included five engaging questions from a rep to a CXO during the meeting.
Dive Into the Demo, Not the Deck
A deck is a common tactic to overview the discussion and personalize slides to the buyer, but this method hasn’t proven to be the most effective for closed-won opportunities. If your sales team and solutions team have heavily personalized a strong deck, it may be worthwhile to present to your technical buyer, but our data proves demos are highly regarded for an executive audience. On average, CEOs and CFOs spend 42% more time seeing demos than technical CXOs – but to be convincing, these demos shouldn’t be generic.
The top-performing sales reps are telling 20% more stories than average performers, and 68% of these include concrete social proof. Neither demo nor deck is an opportunity to “do what we’ve always done.” Instead, reinvest in the voice of the customer so the buyer feels heard and understood, while using hard data to prove how the product solves pain points for others.
Understand the buyer’s focus on ROI
Mind the CFO
One of the new, most active participants in the C-suite is the CFO. Sales reps will need to closely examine their presentation and talk-track for this persona, ensuring points of ROI are discussed and numbers are accurate. And while it may seem counterintuitive, it’s important to spotlight use-cases or opportunities that directly affect the executive, even if it’s not part of the “normal” talk-track.
In an interview with Chorus CEO Jim Benton and Lauren Bailey, Founder of Factor8 and #GirlsClub, Lauren shared, “I love selling to sales leaders because they love the pitch. The CFO has no tolerance for that. Answer their questions directly. They’re not going to go on the long winding journey with you.”
CFOs are less focused on the platform capabilities and features for practitioners and instead need a clear talk-track which emphasizes ROI and why your product is business-critical.
Embrace your new buyer persona rather than shy away
Speaking confidently to the C-suite takes practice, collaboration and coaching, especially as many sales reps may have been previously focused on director and VP-level buyers. But the pandemic has changed the way we all do business; diving into the new practices with enthusiasm and diligence can help all reps rise above the challenge.
Thiago Sa Friere, a native from Brazil, is the current CRO at Chorus, a leading conversation intelligence platform, where he oversees the global customer success, implementation, rev ops, sales, solutions engineering and technical support team.