Selling in the Executive Suite — Steve Dribe

Selling in the Executive Suite — Steve Driben

  • 30 May 2016
  • Comments (1)

Your efforts have paid off and you have been invited into the Executive Suite. You have 30 minutes to demonstrate your value to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. This is your opportunity to show “why” you offer value to his company.

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Don’t Blow Your Opportunity!

Great job! You’re meeting with the CEO and you are the “buzz” of your company. My comment is, “so what”, “big deal”. Now, I am not knocking or minimizing your efforts. Rather, I am excited for you and don’t want you to lose this once-in-a lifetime opportunity. My curiosity is peaked. What is your game plan? You provided a compelling value proposition that has caught the interest of the executive who will approve or sink your opportunity. You are in the door and the ball is in your court. Do you know what shot to take?

Why did the CEO agree to see you?

The answer is simple. The CEO believes you have a potential solution to help fix a problem. In other words, you have demonstrated value thus far. In his eye’s, you are not trying to sell something; you are looking out for his best interest.

What is your Game Plan?

Assess the customer’s organization by doing your homework. As you prepare for your 30 minutes “on-stage”, you are probably planning to review the customers website, research the most recent press release, read the company’s annual report and memorize the CEO’s LinkedIn profile. I encourage and support your efforts.

However, I strongly emphasize that the most important part of your preparation is to be certain you come across as the expert, a “trusted advisor” to the CEO. To do this, find a topic this person is passionate about to start the conversation. If you have methodically planned your approach, the natural progression will be for the CEO to start elaborating on the topic. Congratulations will be in order, as you will have quickly earned his/her respect by doing your homework.


Never lose sight of the goal for your meeting. For example, maybe your goal was to secure executive sponsorship for a proposed solution or your goal was to gain agreement on your solution or maybe something else. Whatever the goal, once you achieve it, wrap the meeting up. I repeat; once you achieve your goal, wrap the meeting up. Time is the most valuable asset to the CEO. If you reach your goal in fifteen minutes, then clarify to ensure understanding is the same for both sides and offer to “give” back 15 minutes to the CEO. You will receive an unequivocal “yes”.

Remain Confident

You are excited having just secured sponsorship from the CEO. You are wrapping up the meeting when unexpectedly, he throws you a curve ball asking to change some of the already agreed upon terms. Most likely, this is his way of observing how you respond when faced with adversity. Be calm, cool and collected. Understand that this could be a test, part of a bigger picture to ensure you are the right person he is looking to partner with. Don’t worry about taking too much time to respond. Your well-thought out response will reinforce his decision to place trust in you.


Steve Driben is an Executive Advisor with Boardroom Advisory Group and a Business Performance Advisor with Insperity helping businesses run better, grow faster and make more money. To learn more, call (704) 559-9097 or email steve.driben@boardroomadvisorygroup.com.


Article Originally published October 28, 2015 on Medium.

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