Tips on Selling to Your C-Suite

May 11, 2023
Tips on Selling to Your C-Suite

Budgets are tight and we’re all being asked to do more with less. At the same time, technology continues to advance and customers are demanding more. So when should you make the case why the organization as a whole should invest in technology? And how? Here are a few pointers to help you along.

Know who your audience is

Who are you trying to convince? Are you going up the chain of command, so your audience is your immediate boss? Is it some other influencer? How many middle steps are involved in an approval? Ultimately it will come down to the final decision-maker – the person who is “writing the check” or whose budget is affected – most likely the C-suite. That person will be the most important audience, so even if you have steps along the way you need to be preparing for that final approval.

So, is that C-suite person a technical person? Maybe. A business person? Probably. Know who your audience is, and what’s important to them, so you can craft your message accordingly. Unfortunately, often we prepare a presentation or request based on “ourselves” – we make ourselves the audience. We’re not the people who need convincing. You need to be audience-focused and know what will convince them.

Features vs. benefits

What is a feature, and what is a benefit? This is an easy trap to step into – even the most experienced requisitioners, presenters (and sellers) fall victim to features vs. benefits. Always remember:

  • A feature is something an item has or does
  • A benefit is how a specific person (your audience) will use or gain something from the feature
  • Don’t mix up the two
  • Don’t assume the audience understands the benefit by knowing the feature
  • Don’t just list features – describe benefits that are important to the audience

Here’s a very simple example. Real estate agents always add descriptions of the houses they’re selling, like, “…it has a big backyard…” But, what does that really mean? If presenting that to an older couple, they may not want the headaches of taking care of a big backyard – so the sale is lost. But “a big backyard where the grandchildren can play” may make the sale. The big backyard is a feature of the house, not a benefit in itself. The specific benefit – happy grandkids, a place for a vegetable garden, an area for the family dog to run around in – must be connected to the specific audience.

This does apply to technology – even more so, as tech people often just think in terms of the tech features – or the tech benefit the C-suite may not understand or care about. For example, a desired software’s feature that will integrate your warehouse operations with your independent carriers may not impress your C-suite, but the benefit that customers will get their items quicker and then buy more often will. Complex technologies can have many features – and many benefits. What are the benefits your C-suite decision-maker wants to see?

Don’t “bury the lead” – and have a call to action

Many times, people seeking approvals feel the need to be long-winded and use big words to impress the C-suite. This is usually not the case – know your audience. The C-suite has a lot going on; they’ll appreciate brevity and getting to the point. “Bury the lead” is a journalism term – it means when the most important fact, figure or outcome is buried so way far down in a story that it gets lost or loses its impact. If a new technology will help generate $10 million in new sales, don’t tell a long and complicated story to get there. That’s your lead – start with that.

To end, all your communications should have a call to action. You want your audience to take that next step, so make it specific and as immediate as possible, and tie it back to the benefits. “Please approve this new integration software purchase by month’s end so we can start generating more repeat sales.”

A specific example: The MANTA-Prolifics Purview Connector

Are you moving your legacy system data to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform? Are you connecting to Purview as a governance solution? For those that have valuable legacy system data and want Purview as their catalog – they can’t complete the picture. They’ll still have missing data and holes if they don’t use MANTA and Prolifics.

The major tech feature of the MANTA-Prolifics Purview Connector is that will give you the full use of Purview – you won’t leave your lineage behind.

What are some the benefits of that? Generically, solid lineage gives you data-driven strategies, better decision-making opportunities, and increased regulatory compliance – but again, the ultimate benefit is how your organization will use it. In retail, solid data lineage will help you understand your customers’ buying habits and can lead to predicting the “next purchase” and increased revenue. For a finance organization, the MANTA-Prolifics Purview Connector and solid data lineage means better regulatory compliance and the avoidance of audits and fines.

Remember …

Know your audience, outline the business benefits, don’t bury the important stuff, and have the call to action – and you’ll be successful dealing with your C-suite and helping your company achieve critical business goals.