What Do You Say To Get Executives To Engage?

Executives value their time, and so do you.

The average executive receives 120 emails per day. As consultants rely more and more on digital marketing, this number is only expected to grow. And it makes your job of generating new opportunities increasingly challenging.

If you work with large companies you know you'll need to take a proactive approach. It sure feels great to have a global brand knocking on your door. But this level of urgency is rare, and you often need to take the initiative to nurture relationships and help prospects identify ways to improve their businesses.

The people you are trying to reach, however, are overwhelmed. Starting a conversation (or some kind of engagement) had become as difficult as closing deals. How can you generate the initial interest you need to establish a connection?

The topic is vast: your outreach strategy includes your targeting, messaging, channels, and tactics. In this short post, let's focus on messaging.

Asking people for "15 minutes of your time" will get you nowhere. This won't work for your closest colleagues and connections. And certainly will be ignored by executives you don't have an existing relationship with.

If you're asking for their time, you will need to trade value for it. As for today, there are three main effective approaches for consultants:

  1. Offering high-value content.
  2. Offering networking opportunities.
  3. Offering visibility and social status.

Here are some examples of offerings in each of those areas that have worked for our clients (boutique consulting firms) in the past.

  • High-value content: Sharing exclusive and relevant insights is a great way to establish a connection and earn credibility from executives. One of our clients, an innovation consultancy, prepared a report on the future of the automotive industry which included interviews with several experts and creative leaders. We shared that with the biggest accounts in the market, which resulted in several consultative conversations, relationships, and opportunities.
  • Networking: Many key executives are constantly looking for qualified talent and partnership opportunities. One client in the banking industry organized a private roundtable with C-level executives that already worked with them, and invited other executives from dream clients to join in for a discussion. Another client in the tech space did the same, but with a curated book club for startup founders.
  • Social status: Everybody loves to receive a personal compliment or improve their personal brand, executives included. An idea that has recently grown in popularity is to invite senior leaders at your dream accounts to be guests on your podcast. If you don't have one, you can ask to interview them for your blog, invite them to speak in a private event, or even send them a physical gift.

The higher the value you offer, the more likely they are to trade their time for it. This also means you will need to weigh quality versus quantity for your outreach campaigns. If you're targeting many different companies or mid-level executives, a virtual event will be better suited than a 1:1 interview.

The key is, as always, to be continuously testing to understand what is working. Your audience and offerings are unique, and so will be your messaging.

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