by pat

May 9, 2010

Getting the contact name is easy

Most savvy salespeople know how to get a contact name at a target company almost instantly using a quick web search or services like Jigsaw, LinkedIN, Hoovers, etc. Couple that with some quick research and you are ready to “dial for dollars”, right?

Maybe not. Here are a couple of reasons why just having the name and a bit of information can be a big waste of time:

  • If you know how to get the name, so do hundreds (thousands?) of others
  • If all those sales people have the same name and contact information, the prospect will be inundated with calls and email
  • Some of the salespeople contacting the prospect may be less than professional and tick off the prospect
  • Prospects become jaded and hide behind voice-mail or delete your message as soon as they realize you are a salesperson
  • Most sales people sound like self-serving sales slime by using a standard product based pitch when they contact the prospect

Faced with these challenges, you need to separate yourself from the herd. Here’s how.

Get a referral

While not always possible, if you can get someone to refer you you will have a much better chance of connecting.

Research shows that referrals are the number one source of leads that result in closed business. Before you call or email, ask the person referring you if the prospect might need your type of product. Also ask about the types of challenges the prospect may be facing that you can help with.

Armed with this information you can put together a cogent, effective plan for contacting the prospect.

Get social

You signed up for twitter, LinkedIN, etc… a while back but, like most people, you probably haven’t been using it much. Here’s your chance.

See if the contact is on twitter or linkedIN and see if you know any one in their circle of “friends”. If you do, ask for an introduction. If not, you will need to spend some time understanding what’s important to your contact so that when you do connect with them you have something relevant to say.

Offer something of value

Your goal for a complex sale is to qualify the prospect and to start a conversation. To do this, you will need content that is relevant to the problems faced by the prospect.

Most of your competition will call the prospect and say something like:

“Hi, this is Jane from ABC. We make Enterprise software that helps secure your network from hacker attacks and protects your sensitive data.”

OR

“This is Jane from ABC. We help companies like yours protect their data from hackers and loss due to crashes.”

Savvy prospects will know right away that this is a sales call. In one call out of 500, you’ll get lucky and they will be in the market for your type of product–the other 499 times, they’ll blow you off by saying something like:

“Send me information”

“I’m Not involved with that type of product”

“I hear an alarm bell going off, I have to go” –this was an actual response one of my sales training clients got!

A much better way to connect and start a conversation is to offer something that you think they’ll be interested in based on your research. For example, if they’re members of a data security group on LinkedIN or you have seen them following tweets from security experts, you could offer a specific type of content based on that interest.

The goal is to get permission to nurture them, to provide value and to gain their trust.

Using this approach, they will typically accept the offer and the dialog has begun.

If they are not interested, you can ask about the types of data they do find helpful and counter with that if you have it available. As a side benefit, if they are the 1 in 500 that happens to need your product, they will let you know and nothing is lost.

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