Getting Your Foot in the Door
You have a great product or service to sell. You know the pitch back and forth and are prepared to handle any objections made by the prospect. All you need now is a prospect. Knowing full well that the right person isn’t going to pick up the phone and call us – how do you get in front of the right people?
We all make cold calls or, in the web 2.0 vernacular, send out blind emails (not spam). We certainly want to make the most of our lead generation time. Marketing is always concerned (or should be) with the return on investment (ROI) of marketing spend but how about the ROI on sales time? Who is measuring whether the time spent on the phone prospecting is actually paying off in revenues? If reaching the wrong person is a sure fire way to not drive business, then reaching the right person will certainly move the ball forward.
Aim High – why not set your targets on reaching out to the best possible prospect first? Go for the homerun! Find out the person’s name by using Zoominfo, Hoovers, LinkedIn or any professional network. Why not send a well written by brief email to the target? If I am sending an unsolicited email I always apologize for the intrusion and ask for their assistance. Make a list of your top prospects and send them all similar but personalized emails. Make sure the subject is interesting and compelling. Perhaps you read a recent article demonstrating their ingenuity or some other element that connects you together – use it.
Stop and Ask for Directions – when you are talking to any prospect, why not ask them to steer you in the right path? Start by stating upfront that you know he/she is not the person you should be talking and then ask for the right person. If you are able to engage a person in a conversation then have them help you. Talking to an administrative assistant or a subordinate – ask them when the best time would be to reach the prospect.
Think Out of the Box – let’s be real, whatever you are selling the chances are that someone pitched the very same thing to your targeted prospect within the past 30 days. If not then you got a hot one. Why not think about a different pond to fish in (enough metaphors). If you are selling small business benefit services why not pitch to local accountants that serve small businesses? If you are selling web design services why not introduce your services to local computer stores?
Buy Your Way In – larger companies spend a fortune in marketing getting their service/product in front of the right people. According to the American Marketing Association, $90 billion was spent in the US in 2006 in marketing. While you may not have that kind of money to spend, think of what it is worth to you to get in front of the right prospect. Is it $50? Is it $1000? Why not offer that up to your network as a referral fee for helping you get into door of a prospective client. Most enterprises use appointment setting services where they pay telemarketers to open up doors for them with prospects. Why not do it yourself?
Knocking down doors is a hard business, especially in a difficult marketplace. If your company’s marketing department isn’t driving leads for you then you have to do it yourself. The good news is that we (all of us sales guys) have done it before. We all have good days and bad days. The key is always persistence, staying on top of leads and following thru.