I began my Tech Sales Career in 1999. Like many of you reading this, I was successful, because I would get a phone list with 100-200 prospects on it and then dial the hell out of it. I would have two "call days" each week and I would typically make 100 calls each day and those two days would set up enough new appointments that I would have 8-10 appointments for the following week. I would close business, hit quota and repeat next month. Around 2005 I began to notice a sharp decline in this activity. It was LESS AND LESS effective. Making more calls and dedicating more time to calling did not seem to help. Caller ID had practically become standard and the decision makers would simply ignore my call. If I left a voicemail, they would delete it without listening. Right around that same time, a good friend of mine introduced me to LinkedIn and that changed the game!
LINKEDIN = LEVERAGE
Put simply: no one cares what you know until they understand, who you know. If you are going to call on a company because they are a "target customer" find out who you know in common. Then engage those people to help get in front of the customer. There is a CIO I am interested in speaking to that has 35 mutual contacts with me. Some of them are colleagues, (read competitors) but many are professional contacts and friends. Here is what I recommend: pick up the phone, call each of those mutual contacts. Ask them how they know your client and what recommendations they have to contact them. Here is what will happen. Some people will say they don't really know them that well and cannot (read won't) help you. Others will say they don't really know them but will make the introduction. And then some will tell you ,that is their best customer or college roommate or best friend from high school and they would be happy to introduce you. If you can get 2-4 people to make that introduction, you are all but assured to get the first meeting (the second meeting is up to you).
WHEN CONNECTIONS DON'T CONNECT
It's going to happen. You will reach out to the 4 or 5 people you both know and none of them are willing to help. Phase two, find your common ground with the prospect. Did you go to the same college? Are you part of the same church? Have similar hobbies? I once got a meeting with a decision maker because we are both fans of the video game Rockband (but that is another blog for another day). Once you find that common ground message them through a LinkedIn Group (you can read that blog here) or send them an inmail. You can even use websites like Data.com and Zoominfo.com to find an email and begin your relationship.
DO IT NOW!
Or "just do it," or pick your positive catch phrase of choice. Here is what you want to do:
1) Put together your top 20 list.
2) Look for the right contacts with mutual connections ( the more mutual contacts the better your success).
3) Contact them and ask for help.
4) Research the person you are calling and find your common ground.
5) Have a specific purpose when calling. If your company has multiple solutions, select one to discuss relevant to your research ( Is their company moving? Do they have a new CIO?)
Go out and be great. Does this idea resonate with you? What other ideas have you used that were successful? For you brave people, let us know what you tried and miserably failed at. Let us learn from your mistakes. Anyone that shares a mistake I will share one of mine ( don't worry, I won't run out) Let's get this conversation going!