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You can have a great product or service but the way you make money is by selling. You will only make sales if you find the right people. Most people in a company don’t have the power to make buying decisions so you have to find the decision makers and pitch to them instead of the first person that answers the phone. Here’s how to find those decision makers.
Do Some Cyberdigging
A little old-school detective work using hi-tech tools might be your best bet. Go to the company’s website and look for people who are decision makers. Then, go to Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social networks and try to find them. If you can, reach out and make an introduction. This isn’t the time to ask for a sale. You’re just trying to form a relationship.
If the company is publically traded, you could go to their investor relations page and read through their 10-k filing to find company officials.
Speaking of LinkedIn
LinkedIn isn’t where you go to post cute cat pictures and it doesn’t get the social media love that Instagram and Snapchat do but for business networking, it’s a valuable resource. If it’s a local business or you think you might have some connection to it, head to LinkedIn and see if you have any contacts who work there. If you do, ask for an introduction.
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Job titles can be deceptive. Small companies of 0-10 employees probably rely on the CEO to make most decisions. Up to 50 employees, you might look for VPs.
When a company grows above 50, that’s when the layers of management really start to materialize. You may look for sales managers or other specialized roles that fit your product or service. For the largest companies, those with hundreds or thousands of employees, look for regional offices that hold employees with specialized roles. You probably won’t have much luck if you go straight to the corporate office at this level.
Cold Calling the Right Way
If you don’t have any luck through online tools, it’s time to really go old-school and pick up the phone. If you call, don’t identify yourself as a salesperson. If you sell cleaning supplies, you might simply ask to speak to somebody in facilities. Receptionists are trained on how to deal with sales calls. They’ll likely recite the company line of no solicitation. Avoid that by simply saying that you’re inquiring into what they use to solve a certain problem. In this case, you’re interested in how they handle a certain type of industrial spill, for example.
When you reach somebody in the department, build a relationship with them first. Then, ask who is in charge of facilities management. You might next ask to speak with them or for their e-mail address to send them information. Also, send the same information to the person who gave you the information.
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Ways to Create a Relationship
Once you know the name of the decision maker, the work is far from done. Next, you have to establish a relationship. It might be quite a while before you can ask for a sale so plan to be patient. The key is to add value to them just as you will later ask them to add value to you.
Leaders like to be known in their industry. They’re often looking for exposure. Journalists leverage this by asking thought leaders to comment on their stories. Each person receives benefit so the relationship works out well.
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You can do the same thing. If your industry has a trade publication, check their policies on guest contribution. Interview your contact for the publication or ask them to be a source for an upcoming scholarly industry paper.
Not much of a journalist? Ask them for some advice on an industry problem related to your product or ask them to share their knowledge at an event sponsored by your company.
You could also trade contacts. Put them in touch with friends of yours who could benefit from that person’s products or services.
The particulars of how you go about building the relationship isn’t overly important. What’s important is creating a relationship that isn’t fake or completely based on a sale. Remember that even if that decision maker says no, they may like you so much that they introduce you to other people that would say yes. That could be more valuable than that single contract.
Finding the right person the first time is key to your success. If you don’t go high enough, you’ll waste time pitching to somebody who will, at best, pass you to somebody else where you’ll start the process again. If you go too high, the person won’t have the time to really consider your product or service and since they aren’t directly involved, they likely won’t give you the time and attention you deserve.
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