One of the biggest struggles of small businesses selling to large corporations is the inability to get a decision maker’s attention or time. It’s the first hurdle that we overcome with my clients since our first month’s work involves doing one on one interviews with targeted decision makers. Here’s what I teach them and how you can also do it…
Use Your Own Networks
There’s a reason why every direct marketer or realtor starts with their own circle..it’s because it works! This is an obvious route to go but some clients have been reluctant to use their past networks or to reach out after so many years. Take it from me, when you target with purpose (I’m looking for a CMO in Food Services, who do you know in that industry etc.) it works much better. Then once you get one person in your network to talk to or to introduce you to a decision maker, then you ask them advice on where to meet more. Further yet, ask them for another intro!
Networking With Their Industry
The reason why I’m so dogged about my clients having an industry focus is that these people hang out in large numbers, in self-organized events. So it’s easy to meet decision makers in an industry function. You can drop in on a chapter meeting to network. Connect with the membership chair and ask for intros. Speak at one of their meetings or conferences. Sponsor a meeting or a table at a meeting. Run an event in conjunction with the association. The networking possibilities are virtually limitless.
Walk a Trade Show
One of my clients was in a conundrum. She had recently retired from an entirely unrelated industry and knew absolutely no one in her networks who fit the bill. So we came up with the idea of walking a trade show for her target industry. She met people who gave her executive names and she also got great info on what the industry pain points were. She then called the names she got and mentioned how she got the info, which definitely warmed up the call. She had a meeting and a sale within that month.
Invite to Something of Value
Even if you know zero decision makers and are too shy to network with them, you can literally cold call or cold email them and they will respond. Why? Because you’ll be inviting them to an event that talks about a solution to their most expensive pain point, that’s why. My clients and I create events to invite our target decision makers to, such as Executive Roundtables, keynotes, conference or chapter speeches, power breakfasts, lunch and learns and so on.
Account Based Marketing is the new poster child for getting a decision maker’s attention. It’s the targeting of one specific company’s decision maker with a very expensive and grand gesture. Such as placing a billboard, lawn sign or a wrapped bus outside their office with a direct message to them. Or sending a contextual gift like my clients KiK did to a jam company. They sent a real toaster with fake bread that had the message “let’s get together for a jam session”. Other crazy ideas are to send a life sized cut out of the CEO to the CEO that you’re trying to meet with. Shy CEOs may not thank you for this but they will definitely notice you.
Getting creative and crafty is the name of the game in the pursuit of getting corporate decision makers to talk to you. And it’s absolutely possible and necessary if you want to break out of your sales slumps or start playing in the big leagues.
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