Landing a meeting with a C-level executive, whether it’s a CEO or CMO, is a big deal. These executives have the authority to ink a deal with you—or pass on your products or services. If you feel nervous about talking to C-level prospects, you’re certainly not alone. It can be nerve-wracking preparing for the meeting and then getting in front of these potential buyers.

Need some guidance? Paul Petrone, a senior content marketing manager for LinkedIn, has outlined some tips that can help you win the meeting with any executive. We outline his advice in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

1. Start with small talk—but keep it brief. The best time for small talk is right as you’re walking into the meeting. Do a quick online search of the executive to find a common interest, whether you share the same alma mater or you cheer on the same sports team. Say a few things to get the conversation going and then take a seat.

2. Choose the right spot. Where you sit at the table matters. Always take a seat that puts you at the same level as the executive, says Petrone, instead of a spot that has you inferior to them. The spot you choose should allow you to engage in comfortable discussion with solid eye contact.

3. Limit what you set on the table. Instead of pulling out your laptop, charging cord and a stack of papers, Petrone recommends considering what you place in front of you. The executive probably doesn’t have much in front of them. You should follow suit. If you need your back-up materials, you’ll have them in your bag.

4. Never apologize for taking their time. If you have ever opened with, “Thanks for meeting with me. I know you’re busy,” you’re essentially saying that the executive’s time is more valuable than yours. Remember that you’re an expert in what you do, and the executive needs your expertise.

5. Define the objective. When you meet with C-level executives, it’s important to keep the meeting flowing smoothly. This means going from small talk straight into the objective. This puts you in control of the meeting.

6. Remember that it’s a conversation. Many sales professionals treat C-level meetings like presentations. Instead, think of them like a discussion between two people trying to figure out the best solution, says Petrone. Engage in thoughtful back-and-forth discussion—don’t just read through slides on a screen.

7. Don’t overdo it with data. You might want to throw a bunch of numbers into the conversation, but these insights can quickly overwhelm. It’s better to select one or two powerful data points that the executive will remember.

8. Use a whiteboard when you can. If the meeting room has a whiteboard, use it. You might still reference a PowerPoint, but by standing at the front with a marker, you take a position of authority. It’s like you’re the teacher and the executive is the student. It’s a subtle way to show that you’re in charge of the meeting.

9. Watch the clock. Petrone recommends leaving the last 10 minutes of the meeting for your call to action. You could say something like, “We have about 10 minutes left. I want to make sure we hit the objectives we set out together.”

Meeting with a C-level executive may feel different than meeting with a manager. However, no matter their level on the organizational chart, they’re all just people. Be confident and respectful. This is how you can increase your chances of winning them over—and closing the deal.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Paul Petrone is a senior content marketing manager at LinkedIn and the author of How I Found Peace: 14 Revelations That Cleared My Mind.