How to Sell to the Board of Directors: Three Keys to Successful Board Level Selling

When you are selling big projects, even the Chief Executive Officer has a purchase limit beyond which they need to get board level approval. Read on to discover three keys to selling to the board of directors.

What are the Mission Priorities?

The first key is understanding the organization’s mission priorities. The mission is what the company is tasked to accomplish by the board of directors. The priorities are the order in which tasks are accomplished; it’s about sequence and timing.

The board of directors pays attention to these elements, focusing on what will be accomplished, why it will be accomplished, and when it will be accomplished. They will also look at potential and real risks and ways to mitigate them or eliminate them. But they won’t go in depth about the methods to accomplish the mission; they don’t go deep into the how. They hire people to take care of the details and that’s what you’re selling them; the how to get the outcome they desire.

You need to know the board members’ priorities and concerns. Then you can show how you’ll contribute to those priorities and address those concerns.

The board makes decisions based on their confidence in the plan, in the people, and and the process. Expect to present proof that you can deliver in these three areas.

What are the Success Metrics?

The second key to selling to the board of directors is to understand how they’ll measure success. How will they know to pay executive bonuses?

Success metrics frequently include revenue, profit, or growth targets. But success criteria can also be market share, new market access, or competitive success. You’ll need to identify their criteria and be able to illustrate how you can substantially contribute to those outcomes.

Every board member will have a slightly different view of what constitutes success and what defines risk, so do your homework or be able to quickly adapt to their individual views.

How Do You Get to the Board of Directors?

The third key is to get board-level access. In most cases you won’t get it in person. But your proposals and reports will if the CEO believes in your plan.

So you have to get excellent at creating board-level proposals and writing presentations that others will make on your behalf. They must include all of the elements listed in this article. Your executive sponsor will help you with other material required to persuade the board to go your way.

Over time, as you grow your personal brand and establish credibility with the board, you may be invited to present in person. And when you do, you’ve become one of the top sales professionals on the planet.