Mar 26, 2013

Sales Tactic: Circle The Prospect

You can’t catch a whale with a fishing rod, and you can’t land a strategic account on a cold call.

Oh I know, someone is going to raise their hand and say, “I landed my company’s largest customer by cold calling the President.” I’m sure they did, but my response is “do it again.”

There’s a clear difference between luck and strategy. You may get lucky on a cold call, and you may get lucky in Las Vegas. But it’s still gambling. To win strategic accounts consistently requires a structured, strategic approach.

It all starts with the approach: be so obvious they can’t ignore you.

Your prospects don’t have time

Time is often the greatest obstacle to new business development.

Executives are busy people, but they’re also inundated with requests. People are constantly pressuring them for their time and attention. This comes from their staff, investors and suppliers. And it also comes from everyone else trying to sell them new stuff.

The outsiders, the sales people, are usually pushed away. They’re the time wasters, and their requests can be ignored. And this poses the greatest challenge for you: capturing your prospect’s attention and interest.

Attention is not enough

A sales person may get through to an executive with a cold call, but it doesn’t mean the call will go anywhere.

Attention is fleeting. To get your prospect to do anything you have to capture their interest. This means you have to crack through their walls and defenses to have them take an interest in you and what you have to offer.

One of the most effective ways to capture interest is getting people they know and trust to introduce and recommend you.

Circle The Prospect

Forget about one introduction, get six.

Circling The Prospect means finding multiple people to recommend you, and squarely put you on the prospect’s radar.

Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes. If six of your friends told you to speak with someone, would you? Chances are you’d call the individual even before they called. That’s the power of multiple referrals.

It starts with research and networking

Circling The Prospect was very challenging prior to LinkedIn. It took a lot of leg work and networking to find out who had the ear of the prospect. LinkedIn changes everything.

The search features of LinkedIn help you understand the prospect’s profile, who they’re connected with, how active they are online, and who you should be speaking with first. With a little bit of digging you can develop your approach, and identify who could introduce you.

The goal is to find mutual contacts that can make logical introductions. These are people that know your business, the prospect’s business, and can speak with a degree of authority.

Build a list of people that could introduce you to the prospect, and begin connecting with each of them. Your goal is to get their support so they will make a meaningful referral.

Once you’ve got five to six people on board deploy the strategy.

Time your approach

Timing is everything in the Circle The Prospect strategy. Try to get the referrals to happen within a two to three week period.

If the referrals are too spaced apart, you risk not getting on the prospect’s radar. They may be aware of you, but lack the interest to follow through with the referrals.

Be strategic in your referrals, and try to coordinate the introductions to happen within short succession of each other.

How do you crack strategic accounts? Do you use a strategy like Circle The Prospect, or do you do something else?

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