The Executive Pipeline Play

Todd Busler
August 16, 2022
The Executive Pipeline Play

Co-Authored by: Jesse Shikiar, Account Development Manager, B2B @ Calm

  • Your exec team has the biggest personal network of potential buyers, yet is likely spending the least time utilizing it to break into accounts.
  • Run a ½ day exec PG sprint to tap into your exec team’s networks  Assign someone in sales, ops, or enablement to own the entire program. This means automating as much of the work as possible, doing the grunt work for execs, and owning follow up. 
  • This will motivate the sales team, deliver results (8x higher positive response rates in some situations), and help drive alignment across the org.

Run a coordinated PG campaign tapping into your  exec team’s network to break into key accounts, move deals along, and improve exec alignment. When we ran this at a previous company, just 3 hours invested yielded more than 2.5 weeks of pipeline from the SDR team. 

Exec PG Campaign: ½ day “focused session”

Your exec team likely has the biggest, most impactful networks of anyone at your company. They are usually tenured, have worked at a variety of top companies, and have friends and acquaintances within senior titles at some of your top target accounts. However, they are busy running and building teams and less focused on helping directly hit the sales number. Although many execs spend time in active, late stage deals, many exec teams spend almost no time helping breaking into key accounts.

Keys to running this play:

  1. Get CEO buy in -- goes without saying, but if she isn’t excited, the rest of the exec team likely won’t be either
  2. Explain the “why” -- based on our previous experience, we generated more than 2.5 weeks typical output for an entire 10 person BDR team during this 3 hour block. On a per hour basis, this will drive impactful pipeline, but even more importantly help marketing, product, and sales leadership get closer to some of the “tip of the spear” problems. Usually a few breakthroughs outside of direct pipeline.
  3. Plan well in advance -- getting a 3-4 hour block for the exec team is not easy. Block schedules 6-8 weeks out. Use proper messaging to first explain how impactful this can be and the message it sends to the company.
  4. Have one clear program manager who is responsible for owning exec communication and all the setup required to make this day successful. Typically SDR leaders, ops, or enablement. 

One you have buy-in, scheduled time on the calendar, and someone ready to own this campaign, it’s time to start the preparation. 

Search for target account matches in your executives' networks:

  • Have your executives export their linkedin connections to a CSV. Here's instructions
  • Upload CSVs to this spreadsheet. One tab for each exec’s connections
  • Have each rep flag their target accounts next to each connection, in addition to an indication of whether there's an open opportunity.
  • Have each exec do 30-minutes of pre-work to stack rank how well they know each relevant connection before the focused session. I’d recommend a simple yes/no on if they feel comfortable reaching out to the person or not. This can be done a-sync.
  • Include a tab on the master sheet that gives 2-3 examples of key messages the execs should use so it’s simple for them to: 1) add something personal to open the message, 2) be super relevant referencing the right similar customers to the prospect, and 3) understand who it is within the account we would like to get introduced to.

Now that the preparation is complete, it’s time to execute. 

Set up 3-4 hour timeblock for everyone to work on this together, ideally in the same room. If you need to do this remotely, assign a BDR or Sales Leader to each exec so they have 1:1 help during the block to be effective and remove any blockers. 

Most of the time, the exec connection will not be the key contact you’d like to meet with. The primary goal of this campaign is to get the exec’s connection to make an intro to the key contact within the prospect account. The Exec team should be able to get through 30-50 of these first touches within the 3-4 hour block. Based on their status and connection, the chance of a reply, forward, or honest response from the account is significantly higher than any other cold outreach.

Final tips and tricks

  1. 5-7 days after the “offsite,” create a 45-minute block for the Exec team to send follow-ups to any of the folks that didn’t answer. Most execs won’t want to send 3+ touches to the same prospect, but they likely will feel comfortable sending one, polite follow up. At this point, they can also loop in the AE in via a CC who can own any subsequent follow up. This is important as many people tend to miss the first touch.
  2. Have each exec set up a bcc to Salesforce so you can monitor the outreach and success of the campaign.
  3. Show the success 1-month later in terms of pipeline. Ask for feedback about how to make this more efficient or widespread. Start running this on a periodic cadence such as quarterly and you may find these are your best weeks of PG for the entire company! 

“Traditional pipeline channels are over saturated. It's a company's responsibility to design creative ways to fill the top of funnel. When executive teams get involved in the right way, it boosts pipeline, close rates, and time to close."

Getting our executive team involved in building pipeline boosted our qualified opportunities by 25%. Taking advantage of their networks and reach transformed our pipeline production and helped us beat competitors more consistently.” 

Jesse Shikiar, Account Developer Manager, B2B @ Calm