Asking a CEO for a meeting using email is challenging. But there is a better, lesser known way to get appointments booked. It starts by addressing the "chimp" in all of us.
How to get a meeting with the CEO
Simple. Don't ask for the meeting. Literally. Instead, provoke a discussion which may facilitate an appointment...IF the CEO decides it's justified.
Getting this done means breaking the typical email template pattern. You've got to provoke the instinctual "chimp" part of his/her brain.
Likewise, once you have the meeting and deliver a proposal you need to, again, address the chimp in charge (of your CEOs brain).
As foolish as it sounds, it's true.
The chimp in all of us
The Slingshot Edge Guys recently turned us onto this way of looking at the challenge of emailing, and successfully communicating in general, with CEOs. We've been teaching this concept too but had never explained it in such a simple (yet brilliant) way.
All people (yourself AND buyers) possess two halves of the brain:
- the chimp half (the emotional side) and
- the human half (the side that sees logic and reason).
When you're sending prospecting messages you need to be appealing to both sides. But mostly the chimp.
Because the chimp is the one that typically drives action (makes decisions).
Understanding this psychology (and acting on it with better emails) will put you ahead of your competitors... help you stand out in the eyes of CEOs.
Activate the chimp but suppress yours
Think of the chimp side of your mind like the CEO. If the CEO of your company asks you to do something for them, and you ask them, "Why?" do you think they'll be very happy with you? Probably not.
Because "why" questions challenge their reasoning and authority.
Asking "why" is a natural instinct. But avoiding this instinct is key to effective communications with CEOs.
A similar situation happens when a buyer asks you for something, and you ask them why they want it.
Questioning their reasoning instantly makes them defensive.
Apply this to your meeting request email
Another thing that activates their chimp side: Coming on too strong, too fast when reaching out. (Read more about why this hurts your chance for a sale here.)
Your cold email ("first touch" message) is probably coming on too strong—saying too much, too fast.
Your goal is NOT to book a meeting on first contact. Using InMail? Standard email? Connecting on LinkedIn first?
Be warned: Asking for calls and meetings right away usually fails.
Once you have the meeting
Remember, whether you're trying to provoke a discussion or continue one that's stalled, you're not selling. You're facilitating.
Facilitating a conversation about change.
Rushing your buyer -- or using "why" questions -- puts their chimp brain into "fight or flight" mode. Because they feel you're backing them into a corner.
Watch the video below (or read the transcript) to understand more about how applying "Labeling" and avoiding "why" questions leads to better outcomes with CEOs and decision-makers.
This chimp here is in your mind. So is this human, and more importantly, is in your buyer's mind. If you've read the book, The Chimp Paradox by Professor Stephen Peters, you know that this chimp here represents your emotional mind. And this human here, well, that's your logical human mind. If you're a fan of Daniel Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow, well, this chimp here very much aligns with System One thinking. And this human here aligns very much with System Two thinking.
Think of this human here as being the CEO of your buyer's mind. Any conscious decision that your buyer makes, well the CEO has to ratify it.
But it's a very, very lazy CEO and most of the time it's just going to accept whatever this chimp tells it. So make no mistake, this chimp here is the decision-maker in your conversations.
I'm sure most of you know intuitively that you need to connect with this emotional part of your prospects' mind if you're going to succeed in sales. But sometimes doing the intuitive thing can backfire.
The intuitive thing to do when you see something on fire is to pour water on it.
But if that's burning grease or oil, that's going to blow up in your face and harm you. And the same is true in your sales conversations. Sometimes doing the intuitive thing can blow up in your face and harm you too.
So this series of videos is about avoiding common mistakes that sellers make. You'll hear and see how and when to stimulate this chimp, this emotional part of your prospects' brain. And equally important, how to calm their chimp down and put out the fires.
Here's a scenario that you might recognize. In this case, I am the seller and John is the buyer.
Calum, thanks for the proposal. I've had a look and it looks pretty good, but could you send me a breakdown of pay rates for all your technical resources on the project?
Sure, but it's a fixed price contract. Why do you want to know?
Quite simple. Don't start your questions with why. 99% of the time they'll piss off your buyer's chimp.
It's accusatory. It'll take your buyer back to a time of their childhood when they were getting told off for doing something wrong: Why did you do that?
Calum, we've had a look at the proposal. It looks pretty good, but could you send me a list or breakdown of all the pay rates for all the technical resources working on the project?
Sure. Sounds like you may have been burnt in the past by suppliers charging you for every little change to the project.
That's right. We have.
Instead of using a why question to try and uncover where your buyer's coming from and risk pissing them off in the process, try a label instead. By labeling the negative thoughts or emotions that may be going around in their head, you actually calm their chimp down and pave the way for a more logical conversation.
You'll either get it right, and their chimp will love you for it, or you'll get it wrong, and their chimp will love to correct you. Either way, you get the information you need, and your buyer will feel good about it.
Chris Voss calls this labeling in his fantastic book, Never Split the Difference. Have a go at it and let us know how you get on. If you're liking this content, then follow John or follow me.