How to Gain Access to Senior Executives

How to Gain Access to Senior Executives

by: Rob Reed

Senior executives are notoriously difficult to see, particularly on matters related to sales.

According to a recent study, to block access they use techniques that you no doubt will recognize. They use a secretary as gatekeeper, claim that a busy schedule and other priorities prevent meeting, or refer you to someone else in the organization.

How, then, can you actually meet with one of these executives? Get a meeting recommendation from someone inside the company.

Eighty-four percent of the respondents in an interview-based study said they would “always” or “usually” meet with a salesperson based on a recommendation from within the firm. And these were executives from vice president to chairman of the board (but not purchasing agents or managers). Not one of the survey participants said he or she would “never” grant a meeting based on an internal recommendation, so 100% of these senior executives said that they would grant such a meeting at least “occasionally.”

The executives were much more negative about other approaches. They said they were likely to grant a meeting only 44% of the time based on referrals from outside or for contacts established at an off-site meeting. And only 20% would grant a meeting based on a direct telephone call from a salesperson. That percentage only increased to 24% when the salesperson sent a letter before making the call.

How can you use this information?

Look at the unsuccessful techniques. None of them require a professional relationship with anyone inside the company. But gaining a meeting recommendation certainly does.

Develop a professional, trustworthy relationship with those you meet as you work with a company. Then, when you judge that the time is right — and when you have genuinely useful information to offer — ask one of your contacts to sponsor a meeting between you and a senior executive.

It’s your best chance to talk face-to-face with senior decision-makers.


Source: “Selling to Senior Executives: How Salespeople Establish Trust and Credibility with Senior Executives,” Target Marketing Systems, 1996.