4 Tips for C-level Appointment Setting Success

Table of Contents

B2B transactions usually take longer than B2C, as deals involve multiple decision-makers. C-level appointment setting programs are effective for shortening sales cycles, as they allow direct contact with companies’ upper management with decision-making authority.

What is C-level Appointment Setting?

C-level appointment setting is a strategy that generates high-value leads by reaching top-level managers with decision-making authority within an organization. These executives can be named as: 

Hierarchy of ExecutivesPositions
C-levelChief Executive Officer
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Marketing Officer
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Information Officer
Chief Technology Officer
V-levelSenior Vice Presidents
B-levelGeneral Managers
Branch Managers
Department Heads
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO): The top-level manager of a company, ultimately accountable for its achievements and failures.
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO): The COO usually reports to the CEO and sits on the board. They’re responsible for overseeing the company’s operations. 
  • Chief Marketing Officer (CMO): Handles the company’s marketing efforts, such as advertising, branding, and market research.
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO): Manages the company’s finances, including setting annual budgets, handling cash flow, and keeping tabs on reporting and compliance requirements.
  • Chief Information Officer (CIO): Responsible for managing the company’s information systems and the technology that keeps things moving.
  • Chief Technology Officer (CTO): The top-level manager responsible for ensuring all IT projects serve the company’s objectives.

Top-level executives have specific pain points and preferences, which is why the usual appointment setting tactics may not be enough to negotiate with them. 

Top Challenges of C-level Appointment Setting

C-level prospects are harder to meet with than D or B-levels for the following reasons:

  • Steep competition
  • Multiple gatekeepers
  • Skeptical to claims
  • Busy schedules

Steep Competition 

C-level executives are highly sought after. Your competitors will likely be targeting them too, so these leaders have plenty of options. The question is: why should they choose your offerings over others? 


Skilled sales development representatives (SDRs) who can emphasize the value of your offerings with solid research are essential. They must be able to highlight the value of your products and services without sounding too salesly or pushy. This can be done by providing research-based evidence such as case studies, ebooks, and white papers. 

Multiple Gatekeepers

In most organizations, communicating with those at higher levels is more challenging due to gatekeepers such as secretaries, receptionists, and personal assistants. 

These gatekeepers are the first point of contact for most cold callers and are usually instructed to reject unsolicited calls. To keep the schedules of C-suite executives running smoothly, it is their role to screen calls and only allow the most urgent ones.


There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to get past gatekeepers, but being respectful and establishing a positive rapport can be helpful. One way to do this is to curate a cold call script focused on executive assistants. 

Well-written scripts can help guide SDRs on how to navigate the gatekeepers’ objections. It’s also a great tool for making a positive impression and building rapport. 

Getting through to a C-level prospect often takes 40–60 calls. SDRs need to take it slow and steady when communicating with gatekeepers to have better chances of reaching decision-makers.

Skeptical to Claims

C-suite executives are usually number-driven and put a lot of value on proof. 

They are more likely to be skeptical over ROI claims, so SDRs need to provide solid evidence and data to win them over. 


SDRs should always conduct research on the C-level prospect before calling. This will make them more professional and prepared, which makes a lot of difference in the call outcome. 

This research should include: 

To further improve your chances of booking sales calls with C-level executives, it is recommended to assign SDRs with in-depth knowledge of the prospect’s industry. They’re more likely to understand their pain points, making it easier to establish rapport. 

Here’s a video explaining the importance of creating a rapport when talking to top executives:

Busy Schedules

According to the Harvard Business Review, most executives put in an average of 48.5 hours a week, with most of the time spent in meetings.1   Even when SDRs get past gatekeepers, C-level prospects are often in a hurry and usually only have a few minutes to spare to answer calls. 


Time is crucial for C-level executives, so they prefer straightforward conversations. This highlights the need to have well-trained, seasoned SDRs who can accomplish the following objectives despite the constraints of time:

  • Ask qualification questions
  • Highlight the value of the product they’re representing
  • Address the prospect’s pain points
  • Book an appointment

A shorter call time is not always a disadvantage, as it gives prospects less time to object. This way, SDRs are more likely to make a positive impression.

Bottom Line

C-level appointment setting drives high-value prospects to the pipeline. Booking appointments with these executives requires more work, time, and expertise, so it’s crucial to have experienced and trained SDRs to run the program. 


  1. https://hbr.org/2018/07/how-ceos-manage-time
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