By Michael Caron
Last time, we discussed part one of a strategy for connecting to high level decision makers, or who we affectionately call, Mr. Big Cheese. In this section, we’ll pick up at the point where Mr. Big Cheese has received your carefully written, beneﬁts-oriented letter and you’re ready to make the phone call on precisely the date and time you promised in the letter.
Making the call
You are probably a little nervous and that’s good as it keeps you on your toes. When you call, one of two things will happen: you will be put through to Mr. Big Cheese live or you will reach his voicemail. We will cover what to do in each case. Before you get put through to Mr. Big Cheese, however, you may be faced with a gatekeeper. Because of your letter which clearly stated that you would be calling at this precise time, you can honestly and conﬁdently state to the gatekeeper that Mr. Big Cheese is expecting your call.
He answered. What now?
If you do get through to Mr. Big Cheese, what next? At this point, say something like, “Mr. Big Cheese? It’s Michael calling from Northbound Learning. Is this a bad time?” If there’s one area that I receive push back on when teaching the Mr. Big Cheese program to salespeople, it’s the use of the question “Is this a bad time”. People say, “Why would you ask that? That’s giving them a perfect opportunity to say ‘Yes, it’s a bad time!’” The fact is that in the life of a busy executive, any sales call that takes them away from their endless to-do list is probably a bad time. That being said, asking them if it’s a bad time shows consideration for their time and most often, invokes a positive response. In my own personal experience and the experience of Northbound clients, you will usually be met with something like, “No, it’s OK but try to be quick” or “It depends. What is this about?”. Frequently, the question will produce a chuckle from the prospect with something like, “It’s always a bad time but go ahead!” Try it and I know you will be surprised with how well it works. Follow this up with “Thanks. I’ll try to be brief,” which also shows respect for Mr. Cheese’s valuable time.
Aim for a two-way conversation
Once you’ve received permission to have some of Mr. Cheese’s time, you’re ready to get to the core of the matter. Your goal is to get Mr. Big Cheese talking and have a two-way conversation. Roll into something like, “I’m following up on the letter that I sent you last week. Did you receive it?” If they say that they did receive it, you simply ask, “What did you think?” And then shut up, which is incredibly challenging for most salespeople as we are all programmed to talk endlessly. I know this might be completely counter to what many of you have been taught in error over the years. Most less effective sales professionals spend their time telling, telling and telling instead of asking and then selling. Let the prospect explain fully what their thoughts are and go from there.
Remember, that your goal is to move Mr. Big Cheese to the next reasonable stage in your sales funnel, such as agreeing to a meeting or a demo. Except in the case of very low transaction size sales, you goal is not to make the sale on this ﬁrst call.
If Mr. Big Cheese hasn’t received the letter (or has it sitting in his in-box), don’t waste this opportunity to speak with him. You can say something like, “Oh, that’s strange. That’s OK though. It states that we’ve had a lot of success in . . . “ and give him your carefully rehearsed 15-20 opening statement. Your opening statement should be natural, relaxed and friendly—similar to the way you would talk to a friend without being too casual. Use the time to convey strong business reasons why he should want to continue the conversation with you.
In an upcoming post, we’ll cover what to do if you receive voicemail, which, in today’s digital world, will be over 75% of the time. We’ll discuss proven techniques to get Mr. Big Cheese to call you back.
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 Click here for a list of other Northbound programs.