Selling Tips Like Never Before: What do C-Suite Buyers Want?

Aren’t you all excited to know what the C-suite buyers want? How to sell a senior executive with minimum hiccups?

But first, how about understanding the C-suite a little better? What are they like? What role does a CXO play in the sales cycle? What are their preferences?

So, today we’ll walk you through C-suite buying parameters and selling techniques by discussing:

  • How much pressure do you think a C-level executive carries? 
  • What are the current priorities of the C-suite?
  • Why is selling to the C-suite important?
  • What are the buying preferences of the senior executive buyers?
  • 10 tips for selling to the C-suite executives without getting stressed out.

How much pressure do you think a C-level executive carries? 

Okay, pressure on C-level executives is not related to the topic…directly. But indirectly, it is. Ask why?

How a senior executive engages with external stakeholders entirely depends on the business’s internal pressure and immediate needs. 

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, Diane L. Coutu interviews Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, a practicing psychoanalyst who has spent his entire career analyzing CEOs; says: 

His study showcases that C-level executives are used to enduring disappointments and failures, often at the expense of their personal and emotional lives. The C-suite is stretched too far and juggling between multiple issues leaves little time for self-reflection and self-care.

How about COVID-19, which created added burden on the CEOs? 

Where should I start?

The C-suite executives had their hands full, from employee safety to the vulnerabilities the pandemic had brought us to safeguard the businesses from the supply and demand fluctuations

Every business structure was redesigned–shedding the old practices, which led to drastic rework and cancellation of old plans. 

CEO Jeff McElfresh of AT&T Communications suggests that “We must have the courage and conviction to focus on a handful of priorities.”

Accepting the new changes and pressures resulted in another restructuring–what were the new priorities and new areas of focus for the C-clan. 

What are the current priorities of the C-suite?

As can be observed, senior executives’ new and revised priorities are somewhat similar to their old patterns, but not entirely. 

To name a few–emerging expectations from virtual and distributed working, skyrocketing digitization, accelerated technological adoption, and reorganizing supply chains were on top of every C-suite’s mind.

Over the next two to three years, around 3,000 CEOs cited technological factors as the most significant external force that’ll impact their businesses.

Why is selling to the C-suite important?

One can conclude that there’s a reason C-level executives are referred to as priority audiences.

  1. It is better if the C-level is involved. If the C-level is absent, deals stall or get unnecessarily delayed.
  1. Pipedrive article mentions the presence of CEOs in a sales meeting has been on the rise since pandemic times. There is a threefold increase in CEO presence in buying decision meetings among SMBs compared to mid-market and enterprise businesses.
  1. CXO buyers decide in fewer meetings, accelerating the decision-making process.
  1. CXOs are responsible for challenging basic principles and showing a new way of approaching routine ideas–this transforms both parties.

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed. – Carl G. Jung 

Considering the importance of a CXO in the sales process, the reshuffled and evolved priorities of the CXO clan, and exploring the pressure and prowess they exhibit, you are ready for the next step. 

What are the buying preferences of the senior executive buyers?

  • CXOs are looking for time-efficient meetings and presentations.
  • Specific and tailored messages ticks with the C-suite. 
  • Choose technology and automation over manual presentation tasks. Such as using an automatic call recording tool
  • It is impossible for them to answer endless discovery questions – their workload is immense. Avoid questions.
  • For senior executives, video is becoming a vital source of information. In the past year, more than 80% of people have watched more online videos. 75% of surveyed executives watched work-related videos on business websites at least weekly; more than half (52%) watched work-related videos on YouTube at least weekly.
  • Even at an executive level, decisions are made in the blink of an eye. Hence quantifiable data is better than vague texts- easier for the analytical part of the brain to respond to.

It’s a different experience dealing with C-suite buyers. Good deals are stalled over silly matters due to the expectation mismatch between the executive buyer and the seller. 

However, considering that C-level guys are more involved in sales deals these days, sellers must learn to engage with C-level buyers and prepare insanely.

How to deal with the C-suite decision-maker?

Today sellers are unable to reach the expectation of the C-suite. 

67 percent sales professionals say they’re performance is poor at making senior executives buy now rather than later. Only 39 percent show assurance in constructing a meaningful business and financial case to defend a decision.

Working with C-suite executives is a different ball game, as discussed earlier. Broadly they are always pressed on time and under tremendous pressure. 

Considering these factors, we have compiled a list of 10 impactful methods to penetrate the executive buyers’ minds and sell them like a Boss!

  1. Learn to identify the decision drivers and advisory group
  1. Start with a clear meeting scheduling plan.
  1. Don’t compromise on research and planning. Take 2x time than a managerial-level buyer.
  1. Emphasize the conversation quality over other tasks.
  1. Focus on directing your first meeting.
  1. Tailoring messaging and data is vital at this stage–personalize for the business and the buyer.
  1. Pull your hair out but handle the executive buyer’s time.
  1. The decision-maker and influencers are gold. Keep them close!
  1. Make sure you’re on top of ongoing trends. 
  1. Start preparing now: sales coaching and practice.

There’s no reason for not following the above techniques. Every point is a stepping stone toward an executive buyer sales meeting. However, you need to put a little more effort into implementing the techniques. Don’t worry; I have you covered.

How to sell to the C-suite executives without stressing?

We had a great discussion about why, when, and how to approach the executive buyer. But did you know that not all situations are suitable for working with an executive buyer? 


Because some deals don’t need the executive buyer. And here is a list of situations you must mug up to avoid encountering the C-suite pointlessly.

  1. Is the product/service a strategic one? If not, don’t invite the C-suite. A lower-level manager can handle it. For instance, a gift voucher program for employees.
  2. Does the Champion hint at adding CXO guys in the sales cycle? Unless the champion bothers to add them, don’t insist on adding the CXOs
  3. Is the decision-making on CXOs’ lookout? If the product/service is not on the radar of the CXO(even if it’s a high-ticket product), don’t force their presence. 
  4. Are you underconfident to face the senior executive? Either delay the meeting(buy yourself time) or let another senior sales leader take it ahead. Under preparation and overconfidence won’t go together.
  5. Are you selling a commodity? The senior executive’s presence is not needed.
  6. Are you selling a low-ticket product? Again, the senior executive buyer is not needed unless specified by the buying team.

So, those were a few cases where senior executive buyers are not needed in the sales meeting room. 

In several cases, a last and friendly note, CXOs enter the sales meeting unannounced. You may want to skip the preparation for now, but that practice will only do little good to you. 

Preparing for the CXO meeting prepares you for all meetings and helps you secure more achievements as you climb the career ladder.

So, stop waiting and grab a copy of the 10 selling tips to sell the CXO. And don’t forget to check out the quick checklist to upgrade yourself as you read.

Jared Freen

Jared is a dynamic and driven journalist with a passion for uncovering the truth and sharing untold stories. With over a decade of experience reporting from the front lines of some of the world's most volatile regions, Jared has a reputation for fearlessly pursuing the facts, no matter how challenging or dangerous the situation.