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C-Suite Participation in Sales - What the Data Reveals

“We’re training people to ask the right questions to understand what is important to the CEO. Once they’re on the call, it’s important to get them talking. They don’t need to be told what is important to them. They need to be heard.”

— Joel Rackham, SVP and Global Head of Direct Sales at MarketStar


C-Level Executives have been joining more sales calls, especially since COVID-19. Higher scrutiny and tighter budgets means that most deals need to cross a CXOs desk before it crosses the line into closed-won territory. This great study and analysis by Chorus sheds some of the best data intelligence. Specifically, this sales call data can help you anticipate C-Suite involvement, and prepare your team for how to talk to C-Level Executives when they join.


FACT: AROUND 2.2X MORE LIKELY TO HAVE A BUYING SIDE C-LEVEL EXECUTIVE JOIN SALES CALLS VS A SELLING SIDE C-LEVEL EXECUTIVE


As a Sales Leader, your top priority is supporting your team to get deals across the line. Make sure that when you show up on calls that you're supporting rather than taking over. This provides an opportunity to coach and to validate your team's efforts. The buying side's C-Suite is joining at an unprecedented rate - 108% higher than they were in January. This is a stark difference from the end of 2019 and pre-COVID 2020.


FACT: THERE WAS AN 81% DROP IN C-SUITE MEETING ATTENDANCE FROM THE FIRST TO THE SECOND CALL.


The amount of meetings a C-Level exectutive will join in your sales process is varied. But if they are going to join, you can almost guarantee they will join the first meeting. There's an 81% drop in C-Suite meeting attendance from the first to the second call. Knowing this, make sure that your meetings are air tight and upleveled from the first interaction.


What does this mean?

Sales Executives aren't the only ones showing up on more deals. The increase in C-Suite participation follows the same trend pattern. As your teams are selling into businesses with tighter budgets, higher scrutiny, and more decision makers, the best thing you can do is be prepared for the hard questions.


Coach your team on being practical, concise, and educated about your customer's customer - and their boss. Know the value your product brings and speak confidently to the broader picture of your partnership together.


C-Suite Participation (by ACV)

Different market segments require different levels of scrutiny and different sales processes to bring a deal over the line. Depending on your Average Contract Value (ACV), you may need to be more prepared than others to have C-Level Executives joining your calls. Based on real sales call data, learn which deals are most likely to have an executive presence and how to talk to the C-Level Executive who joins.


Buying-Side C-Suite Participation (by ACV)

C-Level Executives on the buying side are more likely to join on smaller deals as they are likely the leaders of SMB companies, and are more involved in the process of deals. On the other hand, if your deal is of higher ACV, your deal will likely require more meetings with a greater number of stakeholders, but you may not meet with a C-Level executive.


FACT: SELLING-SIDE C-LEVEL EXECUTIVES JOIN AN AVERAGE OF 2.7X MORE CALLS FOR HIGH ACV DEALS COMPARED TO THE NEXT SMALLEST GROUPING.


Some deals require more support from the C-Suite than others. If you are selling into a segment where you're likely going to meet with a CEO or CFO, come prepared.


Deal size is only part of the picture. It's best to know their industry, how their market is performing, and try to understand their capacity for budget. Coach your teams on being concise with their decks, demos, and talk tracks. Get the CXO talking, and listen to what they have to say. Make sure you don't come in prescribing anything that they haven't directly mentioned or asked about.


As we'll discuss in another report, if you're selling into an SMB company, be ready to meet the CEO and be ready to discuss extreme ROI. Know your business case as it applies to their business case. Come ready to demonstrate how your solution can provide real help in the short- and long-term for your best chance to win.


C-Suite Behaviors in Sales Calls

You may notice that when a C-Suite Executive joins a sales call, the tone and direction pivots. While everyone's time is important, the CXOs time is infinite and your meeting should respect that and make the most of it. Understand how to talk to C-Level Executives based on how they behave in other sales calls.


FACT: ABOUT 10% OF THE TIME, A CXO ATTENDS A MEETING WHILE NOT BEING ON THE INVITE.


Including an agenda with C-Suite Executives contributes to small but measurable improvement to stage conversion. Setting a clear agenda before the meeting helps set expectations and gives C-Suite Executives an opportunity to shape the agenda. When you know what’s top of mind in advance, you can better prepare to address their needs.


C-Suite Time Spent Talking During a Meeting

You may think that a C-Level Executive would prefer to be an executive sponsor of a deal rather than an active participant. But if they are joining your team's call, they are joining with a purpose that should be met with thoughtful preparation. Getting C-Level executives to share context around their business through engaging questions have higher win rates. Engage the executive across from you so that you can have a more productive conversation.


When a C-Level Executive joins a call, the tone and conversation path may shift towards one that's more direct, focused, and concise. It's your job as a sales rep or as a sales leader to listen and respond accordingly. And, of course, to do your research ahead of time.


Understanding how you can best tailor the conversation to get the most engagement from the CXO will help you make a lasting impression and may win you the deal.


"Ask, listen, listen, listen. Clarify, listen, ask. Build a solution off of what you heard rather than what you want to sell. That’s how you become successful. The process by which you get there is as important as the person who’s selling.”

— Joel Rackham, SVP and Global Head of Direct Sales at MarketStar


CEOs and Founders are much more likely to want to discuss vision and value of your product in sync with theirs. Make sure that you address their priorities head on.


Make sure you have succinct responses for topics that are likely to come up, especially in terms of budget, immediate and extreme ROI, and the day to day improvements that will translate into long term growth.


How Many Cold Calls Does it Take to Make a Sale?

Cold calling is an art and a science, and it's one of the hardest jobs in sales. BDRs, SDRs, and AEs who cold call and cold email are the lifeblood of your revenue org. Persistence and skill are required to book meetings and build pipeline. Here's what the data tells us about the state of cold calling today, how to get better at cold calling, and the amount of cold calls it takes to make a sale.


"Warm outbound is key. How we go from cold to warm is the name of the game for how we go from prospects to customers.”

— Karan Singh, VP Revenue Operations at Procore Technologies


Attaching the link to the full data and study completed by Chorus. Link here: https://www.chorus.ai/state-of-conversation-intelligence/best-demo


One thing that I can not stress enough to Sales Leaders right now....use data analysis and studies like this in conjunction with your own data to benchmark how you are performing. Take the lessons and key findings to drive new tactics and set the stage for optimal sales and marketing strategies to win in 2021!


If interested in learning more about how M. Allen is helping teams win in 2021, please send us a note to mslonaker@mattallendevelopment.com or visit our website at www.mattallendevelopment.com.


Happy Selling and WIN!




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