By Michael Caron
When determining an entry point when selling into an organization, it’s always better to start high and be “pushed down” than to start at a lower level and claw your way up to the ultimate decision maker. But how do you get your message through to, what we at Northbound Learning call, “Mr. Big Cheese”? Note: We call him Mr. Big Cheese but of course it could be Ms. Big Cheese as well!
Do you currently, or in the past, mostly rely on relentless cold calls placed at off times of the day, hoping to catch Mr. Big Cheese off guard on the other end of the phone? This technique often brings poor results. Why? Because it’s very time consuming and if or when you do reach Mr. Big Cheese, he is irritated by being interrupted with an unscheduled sales call that he considers to be a waste of his time. Further, it’s only you and your voice who have a few precious seconds to convince Mr. Big Cheese that he should give you a larger share of his valuable time. That’s quite a challenge.
Mr. Big Cheese hates to be interrupted—use this technique to prevent you from annoying your important decision maker.
We recommend (and use ourselves) a step-by-step process to connect to Mr. Big Cheese that is very different than the traditional cold call. In general, it goes like this:
A letter is mailed to Mr. Big Cheese in a plain white envelope without your company name and logo on it but rather just your name and address. In this day and age where e-mail is the way of communicating, why send a snail mail letter? Two reasons – one is that e-mail is too hard to deliver and far easier to delete and two, snail mail gets noticed because it is rare these days. The writing of this letter is worthy of an entire issue of North of Target so sufﬁce to say at this stage, that it needs to be powerful, beneﬁts oriented and concise. In the Mr. Big Cheese letter, you give him two options on the call to action. If he prefers, he can e-mail or send in the attached fax form to invite a call from you at a speciﬁc time and day or he can simply wait for your call at the precise date and time that you’ve noted in the letter. For instance, it might say, “I will call you at 9:15 on Thursday morning to organize some time to talk. If you will not be in at this time or you would prefer another time, could you kindly contact me with a better time?”
Is is considered interruptive to call Mr. Big Cheese at the time in the marketing letter? No way. You’ve told him when you were calling and gave an opportunity for him to change it.
One of our clients has recently used this technique to great results. This company sells enterprise software solutions and has been targeting large US universities. On the very ﬁrst batch of 8 letters from one salesperson, they received two positive replies back even before the salesperson was scheduled to call them! With one of the universities, the salesperson was told that they have to go through a vendor application process which would take weeks even before they were allowed to call anyone. Instead, a Mr. Big Cheese letter was mailed out to the CIO and he e-mailed the salesperson with the name of the person in his department to contact right away. Try it. It works!
There is a technique for what we call the “Chase Calls” which take place at this stage that we will cover in the next issue.
Northbound Learning provides sales training and consulting to companies who want to improve their sales performance. The complete Connecting to Mr. Big Cheese is a one day customized, in-house program that will dramatically increase your prospecting results. Click here for a list of other Northbound programs.