New series alert! Introducing, From the Horse’s Mouth, a blog series where we talk to experienced professionals and ask them what salespeople should keep in mind when selling to them. We decided to create this series with the vision of helping you get actionable insights into dos and don’ts when it comes to selling to their target persona.
For our inaugural episode, we sat down with Anupreet Singh, the VP of Sales at Slintel. Every issue of our series will focus on a specific target persona, and this one is all about how to sell to the VP of Sales in a company. Anupreet has a total of 7 years of experience and began his career as a developer, then moved on to be an Account Executive shortly after. He now heads the Sales function at Slintel.
Here is his candid perspective on how Account Executives need to prepare when pitching to the VP of Sales.
Selling to the VP of Sales: 5 Quick Questions
#1 Pitching to VPs – How is it different from pitching to other leadership roles?
Anupreet says, “Any Account Executive (AE) worth their salt will know that VPs have a wealth of knowledge at their disposal, and are certainly more experienced than the average Director/Manager. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer here, what you need to do is be perceptive and study their moves, decisions, and habits whenever you get to pitch to them.”
“Once you start continuously pitching to VPs, you start to observe a couple of things they have in common—how they talk, how they present themselves, how they negotiate with you, etc. There are definite patterns you will tend to notice, like the fact that they’re more interested in the strategic value of your product rather than its tactical ease of use.”
“VPs want to know how the product/service you’re selling will improve their RoI, help their team achieve scale, and how it will improve efficiency at work. Show them how you can impact these three key areas, and you’ll surely catch their attention.”
#2 Name 3 things that AEs should keep in mind before getting on a call with the VP of Sales.
1. Trade Secrets Are No Longer Secrets:
The VP of Sales is aware of every tactic out there. Avoid using a pitch that comes across as “salesy”. For example, they’ve seen (and also used) the “end-of-month bait” thousands of times in their career. If you try to pull a fast one on them and use this trick, you’re most likely going to lose the deal.
Instead, be straightforward. You can start the conversation by saying, “Hey, I have a quota for the month and I’m sure you understand this since you’re a fellow salesperson. Your decision today would help me meet my targets for the month”. Laying this card out in the open would work in your favor as it establishes that you are honest about your intentions.
2. The Price Is Right:
Are you aware of an American TV game show called The Price is Right? The entire premise of the TV show is to guess the correct price. So, what is the takeaway here? You quote the right price you win. Extrapolate this premise to your sales pitch.
The VP of Sales, in most cases than not, is an excellent judge of the price point at which your product should be sold. In addition to that, they would have already gotten their team to do their research, compare you with your competitors, and come to a conclusion on the budget they should allocate for that purchase.
Don’t try to quote an exorbitant price with the intention of negotiating it down after that. This might lead them to consider other less expensive alternatives in the market instead.
3. Do Your Research:
In real estate, what matters is location, location, location. When pitching to the VP of Sales what matters is research, research, research.
Imagine turning up to the call without doing any prior research. Well, that is my personal nightmare. Salespeople enjoy it when you do your due diligence and research about their company, customize your sales deck for them, etc.
Most VP of Sales are coaching their own teams to do the same. So when I have to pitch to the VP of Sales, I spend 25 minutes on their website gathering information about them and how my product can be useful for them.
When I get on a call with them, I do not ask them to tell me about their company. Instead, I spend the time talking to them about all that I have learnt about them. Asking the VP of Sales, or rather any other buyer persona, to fill in the details you have missed during your research is a much better way to approach the sales pitch.
#3 What are the 3 big “Dos” when it comes to making a pitch to the VP of Sales?
- Do as much research as possible before pitching to the VP of Sales of a company.
- Be as honest as you can. You need to be aware of the fact that it is not as much a battle between the products as it is the battle between people. Your pitch needs to contain the integrity and honesty of you as a person.
- Do a detailed discovery process. Understand the pain points your clients have. When pitching to the VP of Sales, the major points of concern are typically the credibility of your brand, expected RoI, and how quickly their team can set the system up and get it running. If this is identified early on, then the timeline, pricing, etc. don’t really matter. Use the pain point to your advantage in your pitch. It will help you close deals.
#4 In your career as the VP of sales, is there a particular AE who was memorable. Tell us your experience.
The Sales Rep who comes to mind is from Gong. His name is Raymond Wong. Raymond was extremely professional and kind. He asked me what product we are currently using and upon finding out, he did not have a single unsavoury thing to say about them. Infact, he went so far as to highlight and compliment all the excellent features this product had.
One would think why would he have taken this approach, considering it’s a direct competitor of their company whose product we were already using. However, this was an extremely clever move. While outlining all the excellent features of his competitor’s product, he made sure to bring up the one big pain point I had, and the features of Gong that I liked best and needed most. He emphasized on how this one big feature was not something that was available in the competitor’s product, and how this would directly impact and solve the pain point I’d highlighted in our discovery call.
Had he gone all out and criticized my decision to purchase his competitor’s product, the deal with Gong would not have gone through. So AEs keep in mind – Never call out the VP of Sales for their decisions in using their existing tools, because they would have taken the time to do their own research to arrive at those conclusions.
Key Takeaways: Selling to a VP of Sales
- Trade Secrets Are No Longer Secrets – Always remember honesty is an asset when pitching to VP of Sales. No tactics or gimmicks will work. What works is straightforwardness.
- Price Point – You want to quote the right price. Be aware of all the pitfalls of quoting the wrong price.
- Prior Research – There isn’t a single thing in the universe that will be achieved without prior research. Sales cannot be the exception here. Do your research. It sets a whole different tone for your meeting.
At the end of the day, you have to remember that the VP of Sales is more human than you think. They are not a mystical breed. We hope this guide helps boost your confidence when heading into your next meeting with a VP of Sales. Happy Pitching!