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How to Influence C-level Decision Makers in B2B Marketing


In the world of business to business marketing and sales, there may be times that you have an opportunity to sell directly to the C-level decision makers in the company. Rather than the typical approach with a manager or director, C-level contacts require more prep to establish validity and ultimately a long working relationship.

When selling to the C-suite directly, it is important to spend your time on an approach that makes your message and strategy different from what you use with mid-level buyers. Making sure that all i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, here are some notable tips to help secure the account.

Know the Pain Points

Although they are selling the same products or services, C-level buyers think of their struggles differently than the mid-level buyers. Rather than selling to certain accounts, they think beyond that. Market share and long-term growth are more important to these individuals than this month’s revenue. 

Point of Contact; Resource NOT Gatekeeper

While trying to hold off the right person you might hit a couple ‘roadblocks’. With an account based marketing approach, you may find that these roadblocks might be your greatest supporter. This person could be a resource for learning more about the needs of their company and could give valuable information about who is the best person to reach that point in the buying process. Rather than ‘using’ this contact – find out what their objectives are as well. Helping them will most likely make them want to help you.

According to a recent study from Vahe Habeshian, 81% of non-C-suiters have a say in B2B purchase decisions. Keep this in mind when speaking with the ‘gatekeeper’ to this account. You may never know how much power they have on deciding the fate of your relationship.

Hours of Operation

When nurturing C-level decision makers, pay attention to the hours that they are most intentional. Sometimes it may not be within the typical 9-5. Sunday night is becoming a popular time to get in touch with senior executives. While they are getting ready for their busy weeks ahead they are checking emails preparing for what the week has in store. Most times, there will not be an abundance of emails coming in on a Sunday night. This will automatically raise the chances that your email is not only read but considered as well.

Board of Directors/Shareholder Needs

As mentioned earlier, the priorities of C-level buyers differ from the mid-level buyers. One of their priorities is tending to the needs of the board of directors and shareholders. By doing research on the board members, finding out what positions are held, and what priorities they have for the organization allow you to address the pain point that is most important to C-level buyers. Reading over the minutes and seeing the major concerns is a great place to start. Once you have time set aside with your contact make sure there is a way that your product or service aligns with their priorities.

Meet out and About

Rather than approaching a C-level buyer as the position they hold, find a common ground that allows for walls to crumble and conversations to happen. Finding them out of a coordinated meeting or the office will allow less of a defensive stance coming from your lead. Connecting on the trade show floor, the yearly conference, the golf course, or anywhere else makes it more likely to have a conversation as equals will help build the relationship.

Finding Them Where They’re Looking

When creating your B2B marketing strategy, one digital marketing trend to follow is to switch from display ads to banner ads. According to B2B marketing-tech firm Bizo, C-level decision makers will take action and engage with banner ads. Now that you know the ad type – which sites are these C-suiters visiting. The top searches include job searches, rental cars, training/education, online trading, business news, advice sites, and financial information. Focusing on quality B2B content marketing would be your next step. Be sure that the ads are engaging and ones that would entice your audience to engage.