We don’t discuss this question enough in sales “thought leadership” — that’s what this is, right? — and it needs to be chopped up a little bit.
It’s a bit of a Goldilocks question: too soon feels weird. Do you bring your mother to a first date? Usually not. And if you do, a second date would feel like it’s not happening. But too late also feels weird. The buyer wants to see commitment from top management, and that commitment can’t be at the absolute end. So there’s a middle ground. But where does that middle ground reside?
Somewhere around the third or fourth touchpoint, probably
This is usually a good feel, depending on the size of the potential sale/business. If a big deal takes about 8-10 touchpoints to put together, getting top management into the middle of the process makes sense.
Also to consider: as the seller, you want to meet a top executive because ultimately, well, he/she will write that check and approve the business. Obviously it’s hard to get a CEO/COO-level meeting, but you can speed up the process by bringing your CEO/COO to a meeting. That’s kind of like pushing chips to the middle of the table in poker. At that point, they need to produce an equivalent executive. (They at least should.)
Some absolute never-do-this moments in the process
Two jump out that we’ve seen dozens of times in our sales careers:
- “My CEO is in town, but only has two hours before he has a flight. Let’s meet at the airport.” This happens way more than you’d think. It’s awful, though. It shows no commitment. Don’t do this.
- You arrange a meeting between your CEO and your peer — not his peer — which kills your credibility on the account in one fell swoop. Don’t do this either.
Thinking about sales is important
We love us some processes in sales, and that’s great — processes help you scale. But you also need to think about all the different relationships and touchpoints in sales; that’s what this post was an example of. Many don’t think about the timing of an exec introduction, but it’s a crucial play in the process. We think about sales all the time. Probably a bit too much, actually. But it’s good in the sense that we can help you:
We are on a mission to make B2B sales much more predictable, repeatable and scalable – 75% there. If you feel you could need more predictability in your sales process you might want to check THIS out.