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breakterm breakterm is offline
Maven
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 74
Contacting Senior Business People

Can anyone on offer any hints, tips or advice on how to go about contacting very senior people within a large organization.

Kind regards

Sean
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Kaizen Print's Avatar Kaizen Print Kaizen Print is offline
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Join Date: May 2009
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Exact same way I contact less senior people.

Call them, introduce yourself. Explain your reason for contacting, follow up with email, arrange meeting.

If this doesnt work, rinse and repeat until it does.
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lordlancaster's Avatar lordlancaster lordlancaster is offline
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Where the power lies in business

From my experience, 'very senior people' aren't always the ones you should be speaking to as they don't necessarily make the decisions as to which suppliers to use for certain products or services.

It depends what you are offering, but often it the Office Administrator / PA / Secretary who holds all the power and decided who's in and who's out. Maybe you should be putting effort into getting to know these and wooing them...
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Kaizen Print's Avatar Kaizen Print Kaizen Print is offline
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agree with Paul 100%
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Baldykev Baldykev is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2009
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Remember that gatekeepers are your allies not your foes.

Be pleasant to whoever picks up the phone or is guarding the inner sanctum when cold calling. Develop strategies to get the gatekeeper on your side.

Sometimes asking, "I wonder if you could help me?" will help you get the information you need, such as the name of the right person to talk to or when the best time to contact the prospect is. Learning the names of gatekeepers and being friendly when cold calling helps, too.

Got the above from an interesting site

http://sbinfocanada.about.com/cs/mar...a/coldcall.htm
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markocosic markocosic is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 51
Stalk 'em! Google. LinkedIn. Trade publications. Trade organisations. Professional institutions. Dead easy to find out who the XX at YY company is, where the used to work, who they used to work for/with etc. Often right back to where they went to school and where they came in the local pub quiz. Don't know how people coped before the web, heh!

Paul has it spot on though - very different approach to contacting somebody less senior (who you'd go to directly).

Once you've stalked them sufficiently you're usually in a position to ring switchboard. I'd ask to get put through to their PA rather than them directly, have a good spiel for why you'd like to contact them on the ready but do NOT ask to speak with them. Instead ask which office they work at, and to whom you should address your LETTER, explaining that you'd like to send the firm some information for the consideration of <their particular department/job function> and thought that XX might be the most appropriate person. If you know who their predecessor was, then asking "Dave used to be the man to go to, its Sarah who's in that job now, right?" can work a treat.

Being the one person that day NOT wanting to speak to them immediately, and asking if it is appropriate to send the information to them first shows that you understand the rules and gets you into the PA's good books immediately. Careful mind - I've found myself put straight through to people's mobiles on occasion and you've got to be ready with the spiel at that point!
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johnathanB johnathanB is offline
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In my experience you are going to find this tough. Here's some things that might help that I have used in the past.
- Call first saying you are updating your records and want to check "who is head of HR", or if you want to be a bit dodgy, "Is Mr Smith still the head of HR", knowing that MR Smith isn't and they will correct you. Collect the name and end the call.
- Write a letter to the prospect, put something interesting it in, keep it short but do not over sell your product, sell your call. eg "I'll give you a call in the next couple of days to see if there are any opportunities etc"
- Call and when confronted by the gate keeper, say, "Its Johnathan Briggs (no company) calling can I speak to John Jones - He's expecting my call". If asked say "we have been corresponding" Give as little detail as possible.
Most likely he will be in a meeting fake or otherwise. Always say you will call back. Ask when is the best time to catch him. Tell the receptionist to pass a message that you will call at say 2pm Wednesday.
Keep at this until eventually you wear them down.

Having spent time doing, then paying professionals to make these type of cold calls I think you will find this very difficult. This type of cold calling had been done to death and is hard to make work these days.

I'm not sure what your business is, but a couple ideas I've used are:
- Research as much as you can about the prospect. Send them a one-off letter / report explaining specifically how you might help them. They then may take your call, but its a lot of work.

- Organise a local seminar and invite people Can be done quite cheaply these days using a regus offices and the like. We used to organise "roadshows" and invite people to hear a short presentation and handson see our product. We would do this around the country and could put an event with 10-20 attendees on for just a few hundred pounds.

- Try to speak at conferences / other seminars that they might go to.

- Best of all find a strategic partnership. Say you sold a HR product, then go and see a HR software company and see if you can market to their customers. You give them a kickback off each sale.


Mark has the right idea above IMHO. Avoid at all costs wasting your time speaking to anyone who is not the decision maker hoping they will pass you up the chain. Trust me this is a lot of work and heartache for little return (I've sold to senior people in mid to large companies for the last 14 years)

I hope this helps
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markocosic markocosic is offline
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I'd advise using wearing them down as the last resort: Once you get one by way of the good books methods they're often liable to refer you to their contemporaries. Similarly get one by way of attrition/willpower and you can bet that they'll refer your name to their contemporaries... ;-)


Seminars at rent-a-desk places I hadn't considered - thanks for that one!

I second the conferences/seminars - absolute goldmine if you're under the age of 50; doubly so if under the age of 30 and female (or can bring company). In the engineering circles at least they're almost exclusively gentlemen over the age of 50...


Join/gatecrash the Bow Group, Adam Smith Institute and similar think tanks for the various "meet the shadow cabinet" type affairs. You'll be the only under 50 year old there who isn't a brown-nosing young political wannabe, and can retire into the corner with the seasoned businessmen who can't get a word in edgeways courtesy of the wannabes. I'd leave the Fabians, but that's just me. ;-)

Networks. Join/gatecrash as appropriate. So long as you're dressed appropriately you'll never be hassled. http://www.cambridgenetwork.co.uk/ etc Find the B-School alumni networks and wangle your way onto their mailing lists to partake in curry nights and the likes. All indirect stuff, but seeing as its six steps to anywhere from anywhere it'll not take long to find who you're after.


In defence of the non decision-makers they are still useful for extracting information where Google starts to peter out. No use for the sale, but excellent research fodder as they've often got nothing else particularly interesting to be getting on with. ;-)


Who exactly are you trying to find and why?
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lordlancaster's Avatar lordlancaster lordlancaster is offline
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An annoying distraction?

We seem to get quite a few cold-calling sales call in the LiveWIRE office and it's easy to spot them a mile off as soon as they open their mouth.

I can only speak from personal experience but some things guaranteed to annoy me / get my back up are;

1. Someone ringing up who knows absolutely nothing about who or what Shell LiveWIRE does and why their services may or may not be relevant to us. It's not hard to do a quick internet search or look on our website to find out more.

For example, a phonecall the other day went something like this;

Cold-caller: "Hi there, I'm calling to find out who is in charge of buying your packaging."
lordlancaster: "I'm sorry but we don't need any packaging in our line of work".
Cold-caller: "Ah, so what is it that Shell LiveWIRE does?"
lordlancaster: "You rang me, so shouldn't you find out before you make the call? It says it all on our website."

2. Someone ringing and getting the name wrong. It's Shell LiveWIRE, not Shell or Shell WireLive, dummy!

3. Someone ringing and acting like they're my best mate, all chummy and asking things like "How are you doing today" before saying who they are, and why they're calling.

4. Someone ringing to offer business startup advice to the Shell LiveWIRE team, or office space to us when our parent organisation PNE owns and rents out its own workspace in Newcastle and Gateshead!

Basically, people are busy and so an unexpected and unwarranted phonecall from someone trying to sell you something (that you probably don't want) is a distraction and often an unwelcome interruption from what you are doing so you'd better try hard if you want the person you are calling to listen to you and not give you short shrift.

Things that are more likely to work;

1. Do your homework. As mentioned above it's easy to find out quite a bit of info about the company before you call. Be realistic - do you honestly think that a consultancy business has any need for warehousing or logistics?

2. When you do call, make it a brief, friendly phonecall saying that you work for 'x type of company' and are wondering if you might be able to offer them a better deal on 'xyz'. Ask that person if they think it might be of interest to anyone in the company and if so, what their name and address is so you can send them a LETTER.

There are so many phonecalls and emails flying around that it's actually quite rare to receive a letter with a flyer/leaflet/brochure included through the post and I will always read one that's addressed to me personally, with my correct name, job title and address on. You should then follow the letter up with a phonecall to that person NO SOONER THAN 1-2 WEEKS LATER to ask if they've had a chance to read the letter and consider what you're offering.

If they have and tell you they're not interested - take the hint and leave it at that. If they haven't had a chance to read it yet, don't get annoyed - just give them a brief summary of what you were offering and ask them outright if it's something they could be interested in the future or not, then take it from there - but don't be too pushy!

Speak like a normal human being and not a sales robot and you're more likely to gain some kind of success.
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aa412's Avatar aa412 aa412 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordlancaster View Post

2. When you do call, make it a brief, friendly phonecall saying that you work for 'x type of company' and are wondering if you might be able to offer them a better deal on 'xyz'. Ask that person if they think it might be of interest to anyone in the company and if so, what their name and address is so you can send them a LETTER.

There are so many phonecalls and emails flying around that it's actually quite rare to receive a letter with a flyer/leaflet/brochure included through the post and I will always read one that's addressed to me personally, with my correct name, job title and address on.
I second what you said there. Nowadays a letter can really get you noticed, because most people don't bother with them anymore. Letters can be very effective in many aspects of business from making sales to sending press releases.
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carolinem's Avatar carolinem carolinem is offline
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Oh can I add some of my personal bugbears too?

5. People who launch into a massive, non-informative script. I had one of these the other day who launched into this massive spiel about how long their company had been established and their long list of blue chip companies... I stopped her because I didn't want to waste her time or mine and asked if it was an advertising sales call.
6. People who insist it's not a sales call. Yes, if you are selling something I may want to buy it, but not if you lie to me.
7. Have information to hand. I'm not under any circumstances going to buy something over the phone. So unless you can email/post me something I'm not going to want to waste any more time talking to you. Please have information to hand before calling.
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