How to Win Face-Time With Tough Prospects
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In order to close more sales, you have to get creative to get in front of decision makers, which is tough when there are lots of point people standing between you. The hard-to-get-to client has been a problem for all of us at one time or another. But while these clients require a lot more creativity and persistence to reach, you will generally have less competition -- and close the sale more quickly -- when you finally get in front of them. And most importantly, once you earn their business, they make great and loyal customers.
Here are three ways to get in front of these hard-to-reach decision makers:
1. Figure out what's important to them -- outside of work.
Are your prospective clients involved in charities, community organizations, or the boards of other companies? While the general rule is to avoid politics in business, it can be a great way to get in front of the hard-to-reach decision maker. For years I had been trying to get in front of a potential client I knew would be perfect for my products. Instead of directly presenting my product as I had been trying to do all that time, I focused on helping him get his favorite local candidate re-elected. When I called this client, I told his assistant I was calling for her boss because I was passionate about getting the candidate he supported re-elected. She immediately put the prospect on the phone and soon we were having lunch together. Without ever having to bring up my product, he asked me how I could help his company. While I was not successful at getting his candidate re-elected, I did get his business and help his company reach new targets. Today he is not just my client, but a great friend.
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2. Attend events you know they'd frequent.
Successful people are some of the most generous people I know. The toughest ones to get in front of are typically involved in local and even national charitable causes. Do some research about what they are passionate about and see how you can assist them to further these philanthropic causes. I once had a prospective Fortune 500 client I could not get a meeting with. I found out through a little research online that this prospect was involved in two charitable programs in South Florida. I contacted both organizations and got involved in promoting their programs. It wasn't long before I found myself at a charity event with the prospect. While I have yet to acquire his business, the doors have been opened and I am confident I will be.
3. Look for other clients who can help.
Ask your loyal clients in the same market, or people who work directly with your tough prospect, for insight. Once when I was in Louisiana with a client, I showed him a list of about ten people I was having trouble getting in front of. I asked him: "Do you know any of them and can you help me with them?" My customer quickly scanned the list and offered to call two of the names on it. He immediately achieved two appointments for me that I couldn't pull off for two weeks.
Remember: decision makers are valuable and worth the time, energy and investment to reach. The only way to fail with this prospect is to quit, so commit to the client, be creative and persist -- no matter how long it takes.
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