A sales person recently asked me the following question:
Q: What is the best way to get the attention of managers when you cold call them?
A: You have a great question. Too often we approach the cold call — or even the call with a customer we know — from our own perspective. We think about what we can offer them and what we’re trying to accomplish. We do a lot of training in this area, and I suggest the following ways of thinking:
1. What do you want to say? List the things that you think are important about what you need to accomplish, what you can offer, and what you want to communicate to the manager. Make it an exhaustive list of what you would say in that first call or meeting.
2. Change your perspective. Imagine yourself in the shoes of the manager. What are the different roles she plays in her company? What is her day like in her job? What does she need to accomplish this month or this quarter? What might she be concerned about? What is she thinking about relative to the staffing services you could offer?
3. Mind the Gap. What’s different about what you would say and what might be on the manager’s mind? Is what you have to offer her dealing with 50% of her concerns or only 5%? How much of a gap is there between what you want to say and her perspective?
4. Do Your Homework. This part may seem like a pain, especially if you’re making a lot of calls. However, it can make the difference between you being an insightful thought partner and being one of the pack. Understand what is happening with that manager’s organization from four points:
a. Financial. What is the organization trying to accomplish financially and what are the challenges? Why and what is causing that?
b. Product or Application. What is the organization trying to accomplish in terms of what it offers to its customers or internal users and what are the challenges? Why and what is causing that?
c. Market or User. Who is the organization trying to address in terms of external customer segments or internal user groups and what are the challenges? Why and what is causing that?
d. Resource. How is the organization trying to make that happen and what are the challenges? Why and what is causing that?
By asking these questions, you will get beyond the surface level challenges the customer has and start to provide some second generation ideas. These points are great for doing some initial fact-finding and getting beyond the deadly surface level questions like “What’s keeping you up at night?” They are also great question areas to use as a structure for an initial (or follow-on) conversations. They can elevate your perceived level of insight.
5. Develop a More Effective Value Proposition. Following your initial meeting, using the information above can help you re-define the customer’s challenge and respond with a more insightful value proposition about how you can help in each area.
Mark Donnolo is the author of “The Innovative Sale” and “What Your CEO Needs to Know About Sales Compensation,” and managing partner of SalesGlobe. Email him at email@example.com .