The Perfect Playbook for Cold Calling the C-Suite

October 20, 2014

Sure, it can seem intimidating to call up executives, and they may not be your first target. But sales executive, author, and serial entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman argues calling the C-suite is a sales strategy that can actually produce remarkable results. Here’s why and how to do it.

Why Call the C-suite?

No, a company’s CEO likely isn’t going to be the person who ultimately buys your product, so why start at the top of the chain? Here are three reasons why Hoffman says you should try getting executives on the line:

  1. Moving down the chain is easier than moving up it: “You’re asking for a referral down an org chart,” Hoffman explains. “That’s a far easier thing to do as a salesperson — to cascade down, to let gravity help us — than to try to call low and push up the rope to get a meeting with someone with more power.” It can also help give you some major internal credibility much more quickly. If you say you just got off the phone with the CEO, anyone in that company will listen to you.
  2. Executives are easier to research: There is typically much more information widely available on executives. Use that to your advantage by doing your homework and conduct a much more relevant and informed call.
  3. It’s better for your career: Developing executive-level contacts is never going to be a bad thing.

Call the C-Suite: Dos and Don’ts

  • Don’t: Pretend you’ve met the executive before if you really haven’t. That’s a dangerous game and it’s too easy for it to go bad.
  • Do: Treat the assistant as the executive by proxy. Too many salespeople are taught to ignore or try to bulldoze the executive assistant, Hoffman says. Instead, what you should be doing is engage them directly and recognize that the ball is in their court. “All you can do is close the person you are speaking with,” Hoffman argues. When you’re talking with an EA try saying something along the lines of “I wanted to ask your boss, but since I have you on the phone, who do you think I should speak with?” Remember, assistants have power within a company, too.
  • Do: Have a specific reason for the call. It should be about the executive or the company, not about you. It could be a piece of news or a piece of content they released. The important thing is to make sure it’s relevant and that it relates to a sales trigger or otherwise a great reason to call them, specifically. Your goal needs to be making it a special call that they’ll remember.
  • Don’t: Go on and on about yourself. Your intro should come second. It should be one sentence long, and it should be shorter than your reason for calling. Remember, it’s not about you.
  • Do: Close with a short, open-ended ask. This should be something you want (a referral, etc.) and it should ideally be something that’s easy to provide. Be careful not to ask for too much right away.
  • Don’t: Hound executives after they give you a referral. Checking in throughout the process is only going to annoy them. “They have given you the gift of the referral,” Hoffman says. “Accept the gift and move on.”

On-Demand Webinar

Looking to boost your prospecting productivity? Get more tips and insights from Hoffman in the free webinar: 15 Seconds or Less: How to Turn Any Cold Call into a Warm One. You’ll learn:

  • Why traditional cold calling techniques don’t work anymore
  • What you can do to get your prospects’ attention in 15 seconds
  • How to leverage Hoffman’s proven “Why You? Why You Now?™” prospecting strategy

Watch the full on-demand webinar now.
Image courtesy of Simon & His Camera

Founder & CEO

Jeff Hoffman is President at <a href="">M.J. Hoffman and Associates, LLC</a> and creator of <a href="">YourSalesMBA</a>. A renowned sales executive and entrepreneur, Hoffman has consulted with industry leaders throughout the world on the topics of sales, sales management, and sales operations.