In this article, you’ll learn strategies to add so much value
in your executive conversations that after meetings, your clients will consistently think to themselves, “I’d like to get together again and talk.”
A single, trusted relationship with an ambitious top executive can supercharge your business growth. However, these are hard connections to build. C-suite leaders are besieged daily by people who want to sell them something, influence them, or obtain a favor. If you learn to add “value for time,” however, you’ll stand out from the competition and be welcomed back. Remember: It’s hard to get a first meeting with a senior executive—and even harder to get the second meeting.
Value for Time Versus Value for Money
While most middle managers focus on value for money, C-suite executives want value for time. Simply put, they’ve got more people who want to meet with them each day than they have time for. So you need to make an impact, quickly. Here are nine ways to add value for time:
1. Align to their agenda.
What are this executive’s 4-5 most important issues or goals right now? If what you have to say doesn’t connect to this agenda, their attention will wander and they may even cut the meeting short.
2. Provide insight about the external world.
Are you offering valuable (and interesting) information and insights about trends, best practices, customers, markets, competitors, the economy, or government policies?
3. Provide insight about the internal organization.
For an existing client, can you enlarge their perspectives based on your intimate familiarity with their organization and people? Are you able to say, “We’ve been working with your people now for six months, and we’d like to share some improvement ideas with you…”
4. Understand what’s important right now.
Short-term pressures and events often hijack an executive’s long-term agenda. You might ask, “What’s the most important thing we should be discussing today?” or “What’s the most valuable way for us to spend this time?”
5. Like a great pop song, have an opening hook.
You only have a few minutes to grab their attention and get them interested in continuing the dialogue.
6. Add value in different dimensions.
Do you have an idea for them to consider? Can you suggest a valuable introduction to expand their network? Can you help on a personal level in some way? Can you suggest ways for their team to be more effective? Can you review a plan or proposal for them?
7. Be willing to say “no” and challenge them.
In the words of one CEO, “Internally, it’s hard to find trusted advisors who will really challenge me.” Be seen as someone who is willing to say no when it’s in your financial interest to say “yes.”
8. Have a point of view.
Senior executives respect and are drawn to advisors who have a point of view and a well-thought-out perspective on the issues. Blandness is not memorable.
9. Help them use their time effectively.
Don’t confuse quantity of time with quality. If you can help them get more out of their day, or finish a conversation in 30 minutes that others take an hour for, you’ll make an impression.
Just released: my Building Your Clients for Life digital learning program.
Related: Why Questions Are Important in Building C-Suite Relationships