How do you get a C-Suite level executive to agree to a face to face meeting?
I work for an insurance consulting firm and my job is to prospect/find new leads & establish client connections. I find it nearly impossible to communicate our services & solutions via email or through the phone, so ultimately my goal is to secure a face to face meeting. Typically, I am looking to connect with employees at the C-Suite level within a company. I'd like advice on how to effectively get in front of these people & secure an introductory/discovery meeting. How do you get individuals at such a high corporate level to agree to meet with you?
One option is to consider who (which person or role) in the organisation has the most to lose from not having your product, or a particularly important benefit of your product. You would know what that important feature is. Then contact the identified person and get them to agree the value of that benefit. In your case the benefit could be better risk management or lower costs. If that person wants your product enough, they become your advocate and lead you to other people
The short answer is to have something they want. I work as an industry analyst, so I often meet with people in the C-suite, and the way I get them to meet is to offer them a teaser on my latest research that may have a big effect on their business. If they want to know more, I either do the meeting F2F or remotely using a variety of collaboration technologies. I typically have questions for them also like: can you show me your product roadmap, and where are you taking it over the next few years? What do you see as your biggest current challenges and competitors? How do you differentiate yourselves from the many others in the marketplace?
You've got some great answers here, but I will add that you must be pleasantly persistent. As well, follow through on your word. If you are asked to call back at a certain date or time, mark it down. Be prepared, know exactly what your message is, and how you want it to come across. Even if you have to write a script and rehearse it, know your stuff...
I agree with Jesus on the networking approach. I would particularly research the c-level business meet-ups and associations in your target market area. That's what I did when I first started to offer my service for executives, and I made some really great connections this way...
I have a different slant than some of the existing answers. Gatekeepers are Golden, if they are trusted by the C they work for. Get in good with them, and your best bet is a call with the C. C's have busy schedules and can only take so many meetings.
Don't use email to contact the Gatekeeper, use the phone instead and hopefully build a relationship. This is the key. You might also get good info on your competition; or even decide to move onto the next prospect immediately because of a long-standing relationship with another firm.
Sell the Gatekeeper, get the call, make an informed, excellent presentation by asking the C questions before talking about your services. Then you might get a meeting.
I have sent C Suite executives a personal and confidential package (i.e. a box) via FedX with a unique gift inside. The package also contains some information on the opportunity I want to discuss with them along with a request for a face to face meeting. I ask them to have their assistant contact me to setup a convenient time to meet. Because of the "norm of reciprocity", I am normally able to get an appointment with the individual.
You might need to engage in a specialist networker / door opener who can secure those meetings for you. Some can even come with you to the initial meeting. These guys aren't cheap, but can open doors at levels you often couldn't do yourself.
Agree with Jesus. Persistence pays . Try calling into the organization at different times during the week. You will eventually get through. Good luck.
From experience Networking with people is the best way to get in front of C-Suite executives. Picking up the phone and calling companies most times will get you gatekeeper after gate keeper and ultimately you may strike gold and get someone on the phone you want to speak to. My approach is simple I don't care if I am talking to a secretary or the CEO of a massive company I treat them like regular people.