It’s a constant selling refrain that to succeed in sales, reps must connect as high up in customers’ organizations as possible, ideally at the c-suite level.
And that’s not easy if the B2B sale is typically managed by procurement.
After all, the c-suite are focused on keeping their enterprises surviving and thriving. And they can seem intimidating as well as inaccessible, screened off by gatekeepers and bureaucratic walls. Those folks don’t have time to talk with B2B sales reps – normally.
Time for a C-suite Message
However, these are not normal times, e.g., the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, the great resignation, high inflation, and war-induced energy issues.
Now may be a good time for B2B sales to reach out to their customers’ c-level. Today, c-suites may be more willing to hear about the “E” and the “S” in ESG (Environmental, Social, and corporate Governance).
The Big “E”
Environmental (“E”) responsibility has been a c-suite concern for years but currently it seems to be gaining new momentum. This may have occurred because COVID-19 made us look at the indoor built environment and the health of employees and occupants at work.
Isn’t your well-being and health inside buildings a form of environmental responsibility?
B2B’s “E” Message
When reaching out to c-level contacts, a B2B sales rep’s message will be more effective when it quantifies the sustainability contributions of the sales rep’s firm.
Third-party certification can make that quantifying easier and more trustworthy, such as from Green2Sustainable. And the bigger the number(s) and improvements, the better. Including upcoming and future enhancements won’t hurt either.
While c-suites already have executives and/or in-house departments for sustainability, specific and quantified B2B contributions are a form of “good news,” and who doesn’t want good news?
The Big “S”
Although “environmental” can appear the primary if not sole focus of ESG efforts, the big “S” of social responsibility has leapt into US consciousness.
The pandemic spotlighted the health risks to service employees and introduced essential industries. Before the pandemic, the term “essential industries” was likely known only to national security experts regarding infrastructure.
Now we should be well aware that stocking grocery shelves, maintaining police cars and fire trucks, cleaning doctors’ offices must be done – even during the worst public health crisis in US history.
Isn’t it socially responsible to support the people who keep society functioning?
As a result, the pandemic has raised the awareness of low hourly wages in service industries, essential and otherwise.
While the Fight for $15 minimum wage movement started in 2012 and has been successful at various state and local levels, COVID-19 seems to have boosted the conversation to a new level; a living wage.
By paying a living wage, c-suites have the opportunity to do good while doing business and “walk-their-talk” with customers and stakeholders.
B2B’s “S” Message
Because attaining a company-wide living wage can be complex and nuanced, a B2B sales rep’s message can include their company’s plans and goals in addition to achievements. Any step(s) towards a living wage.
Third-party certification, such as Living Wage for US, gives credibility, trust, and visibility for c-suites, enabling them to promote their socially responsible bona fides.
Again, it’s likely c-suites have assigned executives (Chief People Officer, CAO, or EVP of HR) to lead, promote, and publish their ESG efforts. However, B2B sales reps can provide and/or expand on a big piece of the c-suite’s socially responsible narrative.
Whatever channel B2B sales reps use to reach the c-suite, it’s time to change the sales message to use the timeliness of the big “E” and “S” to get heard.
Today, more than ever, the public face and moral imperative for c-suites is on the front burner. From existential climate threats to doing the right thing for humanity. Effective B2B sales’ messages to the c-suite have a greater chance of getting through and can now more directly intersect with doing good.
There is a caveat to ESG messages from B2B sales reps. Specifically, environmental and social responsibility can be over-used or overly-complex topics. This means B2B sales reps must have detailed knowledge on how their services benefit the c-suite’s business success and public reputation. But only if they want to connect to higher ups in their customers’ food chain.
“C-Suite Talking Points for B2B Sales” first published on LinkedIn.