Executive-Level Selling (ELS) is a methodology designed to help sales professionals gain access to high-ranking decision makers and develop lasting trust and credibility with them.

For almost any significant sales opportunity, sellers must be able to gain access to decision-makers with high authority and influence in a buying organization. ELS provides methods and skills for planning the best ways to identify the right executive-level contacts to target, securing access to them, conducting useful and valuable strategic-level conversations with them, and earning return access for future contact. ELS shows sellers how to develop stronger relationships with executive-level buyers.

ELS focuses on helping sellers to develop four essential skills for executive-level selling, each with their own set of useful methods and planning tools.

The Four Essential Executive-Level Selling Skills

Executive Level Selling

Intended Audiences

ELS is designed for any sales professional who must gain access to and sell effectively to high-ranking buyers – that is, people with high levels of authority and influence in a buying organization.

What is included in the Executive-Level Selling program?

Program Objectives

Designed to develop critical skills and methods for selling effectively to executive-level buyers, ELS enables sales professionals to:

  • Identify the optimal high-ranking decision-makers to contact within a buyer organization
  • Gain access to executive-level contacts
  • Collect and process critical information needed for planning effective meetings with executives
  • Conduct valuable and insightful strategic-level dialogues with executives
  • Generate new opportunities from strategic-level conversations with executives
  • Maintain open lines of communications with executive-level buyers
  • Cultivate long-term, value-based relationships with executives

Multiple Delivery Modality Options

ELS can be learned through live instructor-led training (ILT) workshops via virtual instructor-led training (vILT) sessions, or online through on-demand eLearning and video-based content. We find that a blended learning approach that incorporates a mix of delivery modalities produces the best results for skill development and method proficiency.

For ILT and vILT delivery, each SPI instructor has been certified to rigorous standards, and they each bring at least 15 years of sales and management experience to ensure their credibility and enhance facilitated discussions. Alternatively, SPI can certify client instructors for in-house delivery and coaching, at the client’s option.

Workshop Topical Agenda

ELS is a modular program, designed to be tailored to the unique requirements of each client. The standard instructor-led ELS workshop is a one-day, highly interactive program, and incorporates online eLearning and in-classroom tools. The standard workshop includes:

Introduction to Executive-Level Selling

  • Objectives
    • Identify why and how executives play a role in strategic buying decisions, and what sellers can do to engage effectively with executive-level buyers
  • Key Concepts
    • How organizations buy and the importance of the buyer’s planning phase
    • Why executive involvement varies at different stages of the buying process
    • Four executive-level selling skills needed to engage effectively with executives
      • Executive call preparation
      • Strategic dialogues
      • Relationship management
      • Value communication
  • Exercises
    • Introduce workshop participants and discuss challenges with executive selling

Executive Call Preparation

  • Objectives
    • Identify the information needed to develop an effective business development strategy for contacting a target executive, and how to prepare for that meeting
  • Key Concepts
    • The three things executives will decide about you and your organization
    • Where to find key sources of information for executive-level call preparation
    • How pain drives executive decision-making
    • How to prepare to deliver a sound executive-level value proposition
    • Methods for gaining access to executives (sponsors, referrals, direct contact)
    • Methods for uncovering influencers to help reach executives
  • Exercises
    • Review your pre-workshop assignment research (including an Account Profile)
    • Executive Call Preparation (Part 1) – Select an opportunity and key players, and identify information gaps and ways to address them
    • Executive Call Preparation (Part 2) – Identify executive pain, the value of addressing the pain, and the capabilities you can bring to address the pain
    • Determine your executive business development strategy

Strategic Dialogue

  • Objectives
    • Review and practice a conversational model for uncovering and expanding on corporate business initiatives
  • Key Concepts
    • How to leverage gatekeepers to access executives
    • How to apply a structured approach for conducting a strategic dialogue with executives aimed at establishing and linking to their core business initiatives
    • How and when to use email and planning documents to stay engaged with executives after they delegate projects to other customer individuals
  • Exercises
    • Role-Play: Conduct a strategic dialogue with an executive
    • Develop a dialogue confirmation email and business initiative project plan

Relationship Management

  • Objectives 
    • Develop methods for helping an executive to initiate new sales opportunities, and then apply techniques for maintaining ongoing contact with the executive
  • Key Concepts
    • How to further maintain contact with executives during delegation
    • How to develop and deliver an executive-level solution presentation
    • How to handle situations where executives want to stay involved in the execution of a major project

Value Communication

  • Objectives
    • Improve your relationship with the executive by measuring and reporting the value received in a structured manner
  • Key Concepts
    • How to measure project success and leverage it to improve the relationship
    • Review the elements of an effective executive business review

Call to Action

  • Objectives 
    • Review additional best practices to consider, when applying executive-level selling skills and methods
  • Key Concepts
    • How to maintain contact with executives
    • How to improve an executive’s perception (from vendor to “trusted advisor”)
  • Exercises
    • Identify how to apply executive-level selling skills and methods

Instructional Materials

The ELS workshop is designed with adult learning principles in mind. The program’s instructional materials facilitate participant understanding by using a mix of media to transmit and reinforce key learning points. SPI provides full-color training content in electronic workbooks, for use on participants’ mobile devices or laptop computers, as well as color reference charts, animated presentations, and interactive content, where appropriate.

Participants complete a brief pre-workshop assignment by completing an account profile for a live sales opportunity, which will be used in case study exercises in the workshop.

Useful Sales Tools and Job Aids

The ELS workshop includes a variety of helpful job aids and tools. As participants complete the workshop exercises, they develop proficiency by applying these tools to their live sales opportunities. After the workshop, sellers can use the tools on an ongoing basis for effective execution of executive-level selling skills.

The job aids provided in the ELS program toolkit include:

  • Account Profile – a document that captures key criteria for a target company, including the likely challenges they are facing
  • Pain Chain™ and Value Chain – a graphical depiction of the cause and effect relationship of critical business issues (“pains”) inside an organization, and the value of addressing those issues for a designated opportunity
  • Executive-Level Business Development Tools – targeted scripts/prompters used to increase a seller’s success rate at stimulating executives’ curiosity and interest
  • Executive Meeting Agenda – a structure for an effective executive-level strategic sales conversation
  • Executive-Level Communications – templates for effective post-meeting communications with executive buyers
  • Executive-Level Presentation Outline – a format for planning effective solution presentations to executives
  • Success Criteria – a tool for capturing key value metrics of interest to an executive, and for tracking and communicating results
  • 30/60/90-Day Implementation Plan – a planning tool for getting started with opportunity planning principles successfully

Strategic Value

Executive-Level Selling provides sales professionals with the skills and methods they need to sell effectively to high-ranking decision-makers. The outcomes of this methodology are higher win rate for sales opportunities, an increase in the number of new sales opportunities created, and a higher level of relationship with and access to executive-level buyers.

Maybe consider an Open Workshop?

If you need training for individuals and small groups, then attending one of our open workshops might make sense for you.