Must-Knows about C-Level Decision-Makers
Once you understand a few basic principles, it becomes easier to sell top management

by Kelley Robertson — June 2015—Selling to high corporate (C)-level decision-makers is challenging. However, it can be easier if you understand a few business principles.

C-level decision-makers are paid to improve their business results

Regardless of how the media portrays these executives, their primary concern is to improve their business. This includes increasing sales, market share, and customer loyalty; reducing costs, errors, or employee turnover; improving productivity, employee engagement, customer service; etc. Your product, service, or solution should address one or more of these issues.

C-level decision-makers deal with changing priorities

Improving customer engagement may be a top priority today, but tomorrow that executive may be faced with cutting US$250,000 in expenses. That means prospects sometimes go cold after expressing interest in your initial solution. Have a strategy in place to keep your solution current.

C-level decision-makers are extremely busy

On average, these executives arrive early in the morning and stay late into the evening. They get dozens of calls every day, receive too many emails, and attend too many meetings. This means that you need to maximize every minute you have when you connect with them. This applies to telephone conversations and face-to-face meetings. Know EXACTLY what to say when you connect with these individuals.

C-level decision-makers rely on others

Contrary to popular belief, these high-ranking big-wigs seldom make decisions on their own. They often defer to other people on their team and ask for feedback from peers and/or subordinates. This means you need to involve these people in your conversations and include them in the decision-making process. Include all the decision-making stakeholders.

C-level decision-makers don’t like to make mistakes

A major mistake can affect an executive’s reputation in the company, the specific industry, and even the global community. This affects the decision-making process, which means you need to uncover and address their risk factor during your conversations. Determine how best to reduce your prospects’ risk factor.

C-level decision-makers have big egos

Most executives have a healthy ego, which is one of the things that helped them achieve their status in the company. This means that you need to be very confident in your own abilities when selling to these individuals. Don’t back down when you’re challenged. In fact, doing so could cost you the business because C-level execs want to deal with people who believe in what they do. Be confident when to dealing with C-level executives.

C-level decision-makers spend the bulk of their day in meetings

The next time you’re in the office, watch the executives. Chances are you will see them dashing from meeting to meeting. Your prospects are in the same position. They aren’t sitting at their desk waiting for you to call them. Be persistent in your efforts to connect with these individuals.

C-level decision-makers have at least 40 hours of work on their desk at any given time

Several executives I know have expressed these sentiment, “I will never get caught up,” or “Just when I think I can’t get busier, I do,” or “I never call a salesperson back because I already have too much on my plate.” You need to give these individual’s an extremely good reason to meet with you or take your call. Have a good reason and effective approach for getting c-level execs attention.

C-level decision-makers receive upwards of 150 emails every day

Many sales people use email as their major form of correspondence and it can be ineffective because most C-level decision-makers simply don’t have time to respond to every email. A managing director once told me that he prefers telephone correspondence because he simply can’t get to every email—even when he wants to. Use a variety of strategies to connect with C-level decision-makers.

C-level decision-makers think big picture

Most C-level execs don’t get bogged down in the little details of their business; they pay others to take care of them. I once met with the president of a US$125 million company and made the mistake of asking her questions about front-line execution instead of top-level strategic issues. See and discuss your prospects’ big picture.

Kelley Robertson is offering a free audio program, Sales Blunders That Cost You Money, and two other sales-boosting resources to anyone who subscribes to her newsletter at or email

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