How to Reach Decision-Makers

Last Updated Feb 18, 2010 2:25 PM EST

The recent post "Free Coaching: Accelerate Your Career" asked Sales Machine readers to identify the weakest link in their sales skill set, so that we could address the challenge personally. Sales Machine reader JayTeeSays writes:
I just changed industries. I am now required to acquire most of my own prospecting. I need to learn how to best find out how to get to the decision makers more time efficiently and then how to convince them to allow me time to properly demonstrate the benefits of my product."
MY RESPONSE:
There are two elements to your weakest link. First, you need to spend less time to get the qualified leads you need to make quota. Second, you need to convince those leads to spend time with you so that you can sell to them.

The easiest way to build a sales pipeline is through referrals. I've written a fair amount on that process, but probably the most useful post is Five Ways to Build Your Referral Network. If you really want to get good at referral, I recommend anything by Joanne Black. She's made herself the world's top expert in referral selling. A very smart lady.

However, since you're new to the industry, you may not have enough contacts to make referrals into a viable start-up strategy. In that case, it means that you're going to be doing some cold-calling.

With cold calling, the trick to pre-qualify your leads through research, so that you know which leads are most likely to be customers. To help with this, check out the post Research a Prospect in Ten Minutes. If you're really starting from scratch, you might want to check out Jigsaw -- a good way to dig around for potential leads.

As for cold-calling techniques and getting appointments, this blog is full of advice on that subject. Click on this link: HOW TO COLD CALL, and you'll get lots of advice on this important topice. In terms of getting appointments, the key posts are probably The Ultimate Cold Calling Tool and The Ultimate Prospect Qualification Tool.
If you want some real training in cold calling technique, I'd recommend Keith Rosen, Barry Rhein or Wendy Weiss. They have different approaches, but all three are very good.

READERS: This post is not intended to be a complete answer, but merely to open a dialog on this issue. Does anyone have any further suggestions or comments? If so, post them as a comment!