How do I get to meet key decision makers?
A question that I am frequently asked.
First, like all Sales people and marketeers, it is key to identify your target audience, and have a message (‘the hook’) that is likely to spark their interest. Once you have both of these clear in your strategy then you can act.
An exercise that has proved successful is to attend an exhibition. Research an exhibition that has some relevance to your business area of expertise. Check all the companies that are within your ‘geographical’ target, exhibition web sites make this quite easy to achieve before travelling. Take note of exactly where they are on the floor plan. Prepare a few words that demonstrate your knowledge of the subject, without it being a ‘sell’. It is vitally important to make sure that you are NOT selling here. In fact ‘selling’ to exhibitors is highly unethical, after all they have usually paid ‘big bucks’ to enable THEM to sell!
Only approach when all is quiet on the stand, its amazing how the most senior person pounces when all is quiet! Carefully chosen words (that contain ‘the hook’) should solicit the response, “Why dont you call in on me some time?”. Bingo! Yes, it does work.
A good tip is to practice first on two or three stands that you have NOT targeted, so, make any mistakes where it does not matter! You will be surprised how slick you will become when you come to your key targets!
Moving on to ‘telephone approaches’, the same philosophy should apply. Create a ‘guideline script’ (but create a means of expressing this without reading it parrot fashion). Approach several companies whom you regard as ‘peripheral targets’, and make your mistakes here, before you call the key targets.
How do I get past the ‘gate keeper’? This can be quite a skill! A good ‘gate keeper’ may be difficult to by pass. However, calling early in the morning, or late afternoon, when many may have gone home can prove successful. Perhaps you can inform the gate keeper of ‘what the boss is missing by not talking to you’. Another possibility is to get the e mail ID of the boss, in order to stimulate his/her interest with some well chosen words.
Networking events can also provide good opportunity. The down side is that you probably do not know who is there until after the event. But the day after, when you read the attendee list, and realise that you missed the very target you sought, drop an e mail to them. State that you wished you had met, reference something of note from the networking meeting, then state why it would be worth talking in more detail.
As a sales person, it is important to recognise you will probably never get to see every prospect you target. Some will prove impossible to track down. Accept it, do not take it personally. Learn from your approach, develop your style, and get on to the next prospect.
Want to brush up on these skills? Call Ian Thomas or Bob Francis at Southern Group Business Advisors on 0870 787 7590, or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com.