May 6, 2017

#451. How to Engage the C-Suite. With Sharon Gillenwater.

Sharon Gillenwater, Founder of Boardroom Insiders, and CXO engagement strategy expert, joins me on this episode of #Accelerate!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

[1:35] Boardroom Insiders provides in-depth executive profiles to large tech vendors, to engage the C-suite on a personal level. Sharon was a consultant, and was asked her how to sell to the C-level. After research, she started the company in 2008.

[5:08] Boardroom Insiders has around 12K executive profiles in their database, which is constantly updated, and available by subscription. They have tracked some of the executives, from company to company, for almost 10 years.

[6:05] LinkedIn and contact databases tell you who to contact. Boardroom Insiders tells you what they want to talk about. If you call an executive with no credibility of your own, you won’t get a second chance.

[7:31] Sharon discusses decision makers outside the C-suite. Sometimes they come to no decision, which is a bigger obstacle than the competition. Teams demand integration between unlike products. C-suites can influence the sale.

[12:16] Sharon says you work with stakeholders, decision makers and the C-Suite. It is not simply a matter of engaging the CEO. Work all the levels.

[14:05] Sharon includes business unit heads in the C-suite category, as they make many of the tech decisions. The perception of what C-suite is has expanded as new titles have proliferated. Sharon discusses new digital expectations.

[15:57] Sharon walks through the enterprise sales process, including automation tools, brand presence, content marketing, and the one-to-one value proposition CEOs expect. Most sales teams save the CEO focus for the largest accounts.

[19:07] The ABM/ABE model needs to be in place at an enterprise for the Boardroom Insiders database to be useful. The data gives the opportunity to personally engage at the highest level, within a very targeted group of accounts.

[21:41] ABE allows you to define plays and develop playbooks. But a generic invitation does not work with the C-suite audience. It takes a personally relevant call from their executive peer.

[27:24] The human touch in selling is making a ‘comeback.’ There are no automated silver bullets.

[29:38] Sharon explores why field marketing controls the data, and feeds it to sales. Sales may not have the budget. It’s often the way SaaS is organized.

[31:12] Sharon would like sales to have better access to the data.