I am all about social selling and understand its benefits, how it works and why it can’t be overlooked. I also talk and work with CEOs who continually claim how they are tired and not interested in salespeople trying to Connect with them to talk business. A previous post, The CEO May Not Want to Connect—Tips & Settings to Consider brought this issue to light.
Just last week during two separate Vistage sessions, I clearly heard this sentiment. The CEOs that I spoke with recognize that they want their salespeople to reach out to the top decision-makers for meetings and understand the inherent disconnect here. Others did agree that if they were actually interested in the product or service, they might respond if the message was well written, they had a Connection in common or they recognized the company.
I see both sides. I understand a CEO’s frustration. I also see the salesperson’s side. This is their job, how they are compensated and how they serve their company. Top producers excel because they figure out new ways in. They adapt, redefine and automate their process.
What to do if you’re the salesperson who needs to get in front of the CEO or other key executives:
- Stop Connecting with the CEO or president if you don’t actually know them (know them = have met them personally).
- Instead, figure out how you might help them. Don’t Connect; rather, send them a message. Help one of their salespeople. Share content on their behalf. Refer a great candidate for one of their open positions. Get to know their company.
- Build a relationship with key people inside their organization. Consider the director or vp level. How about their top sales people? Top sales producers often carry major klout and understand the need for you to get introduced or referred in. They’ll help, they get it.
- Do they work with consultants? If so, find out who they are. (It’s great if they are in your area). Consider consultants strategic partners. They have face time with the CEO and typically the CEO holds them in high regard. Cultivate your own consultant network. Refer consultants whenever appropriate.
- Ask your CEO if they can help you. CEOs are the best business developers. They are the face of the organization. Business development should be a part of every CEO job description. Don’t imagine they will do this automatically. Ask them if they will help. If you have a CEO with a sub par network on LinkedIn, encourage them to rethink their strategy.
One of our clients works diligently to connect the dots; building strong centers of influence. Between he and his salesperson, they’ve recently scheduled 21 new meetings over 14 weeks by leveraging LinkedIn and asking for introductions from the right people.
It’s about the right people at the right time with the right message. Know your message, be ready to deliver it effectively.
It’s about knowing who does want to Connect; cultivate those connections.
LinkedIn isn’t your short cut. It’s also not your pass to annoy others. Instead be a leader. A thought leader, a community leader, an all-star volunteer, an educator. Be great on your own merit and you will find new ways to connect with those CEOs.