Don’t Expect a Seat if You Don’t Bring Anything to the Table

If you wish to sit with executive leaders at the decision-making table, you need to learn, consume and mirror their characteristics.

Now granted, not all sales require C-level or executive access. However; engaging at this level is critical if your goals are to build strategic client relationships, be perceived as a trusted professional and to differentiate yourself from the competition.

Do you have what it takes to gain a seat at the table?

“In today’s commoditized business world, customers only care about one thing: value. To offer real value you must stop being a salesperson and become a businessperson who sells.”

Marc Miller, A Seat at the Table.


Business executives have business goals and challenges. It’s up to you to attach your offerings to their challenges in the form of strategic help, this is true value.

“When you suggest solutions that add value to critical customer strategies, you leave your competitors in the dust. Since your competition is myopically focused on selling products and services that add little value to the higher picture strategy of the customer, these traditional competitors will no longer even be on your radar of competition.”

Marc Miller, A Seat at the Table.

Do you have that ‘executive presence’ to gain the coveted invitation?

To gain access, I believe it’s the combination of confidence, communication, including high doses of business acumen and value articulation, while showcasing Selling From the Heart.

This my friends is the wholly sales grail. Projecting and portraying an executive presence, combined with the way you deliver your message, will cause executives to take notice.

No alt text provided for this image


Remember, C-level executives are business executives. This means you must completely engage in business-oriented conversations in order to establish your credibility and to differentiate yourself from the competition. You must speak their language, not yours. You must understand their industry and their competitive environment.

  • You must position your solutions in terms of their business priorities, financial goals and strategic initiatives.
  • You must involve their trusted advisors in your conversations, including all of them in the process.
  • You must be able to articulate how to minimize and mitigate their personal risk.

Attention to all sales leaders… How well do your salespeople understand your clients and prospects business?

To consistently gain a seat at the table, you need to understand their needs, challenges and business environment.


In my last blog… Meaningful Relationships Matter… Are Yours Real, Relatable & Referrable? I introduced you to the equation…

Credibility = Trust + Expertise + Authenticity

In chapter 7, “Conversations that Connect” of Marc Miller’s “A Seat at the Table” he goes on to say meaningful conversations with executives do matter. Making these connections require the combination of two ingredients:

  • A strategic blueprint
  • A questioning structure

This got me thinking… What other ingredients can sales professionals sprinkle on top of this to differentiate themselves from the sales wolf pack?


Executives can smell sincerity the minute you sit down at the table and open your mouth. Conversely, they can smell insincerity just the same. If you truly mean and believe what you’re saying then it will come across as sincere.

In a sales world full of mistrust and rampant skepticism, sincerity is Tony Chachere creole seasoning. It’s great on everything!

No alt text provided for this image

Sincerity: being real, being genuine, and being human in a sales world riddled with empty suits lies at the heart of gaining a consistent seat at the table. It’s truly coming to grips with their genuine needs and delivering relevant solutions to executive’s that offer real value.

Sincerity means listening without an agenda. Faking sincerity will get you exposed! Empty suits come to the business table with their own hidden agenda. They’re wrapped up and too busy thinking about quotas and promotions as they reek of commission breath. It’s not about you, it’s about the wants, needs and expectations of these executives.


Without substance one can’t add business value. You must uncover their business goals, their challenges and what might be troubling executives; then offer them sound advice.

Empty suits fail to zero in on specific business challenges executives face. They fail to demonstrate they understand as they care more about what goes into their wallet and their bank account.

When you think of substance, think of Frank’s Redhot Sauce and put that Sh$t on everything. Business acumen combined with business conversational skills leads to substantive executive conversation.

No alt text provided for this image

A sales professional who lacks substance fails to capitalize on executive level conversations.


Getting to the heart of the matter, if you are unable to uncover a personal or emotional need for any executive to make a change, then you might consider breaking off the meeting, thanking them for their time and move on to the next prospect.

“It’s not your motivation to sell, it’s an executives motivation to buy”

No question about it, emotions play a part in sales. There’s the emotional side of executives and then there’s the emotional side of individual sales reps.

Emotions play into every single decision we make and buying decisions are no different. It is my belief emotions and how well sales professionals manage it, is the key to winning at the executive level.

I believe sales professionals are leaders: they build relationships, cast vision, and motivate people to take action. Think for a moment… Can the Emotional Intelligence traits of effective leaders be applied to sales professionals?

“It’s about having the heart to rise up”

Add a splash of Sriracha and heart and this becomes the secret sauce. Everything tastes better with Sriracha and so do business conversations.

No alt text provided for this image

Authenticity and heart is one of the biggest challenges for salespeople in a profession riddled with scrupulous, fake and disingenuous sales reps.


There’s absolutely nothing wrong with dressing the part. The problem lies when it’s all style with zero substance, sincerity and heart. Expensive Armani suits won’t help you at the executive table and is not a substitute for business acumen. Fine clothing is not a substitute for brains.

The next time you’re at the grocery store think…

  • Tony Chachere’s, Am I being sincere?
  • Frank’s Redhot Sauce, Am I bringing substance?
  • Sriracha, Am I bringing my heart?

Meaningful and credible executive level relationships do matter! Discover the power of relational selling at Selling From the Heart.

Get Inspired Daily

I know selling can be hard. I'd like to help keep you motivated.

Each morning you'll receive a brief email with ideas to inspire your success. 

Enter your email below and I'll add you to the list.

To your success,


You are subscribed. Check your email for the welcome message.