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Reach ANY Executive in 10 Easy Steps!

Never has it been so difficult to get through to an executive to make a formal appointment. Nevertheless, with persistence, it's possible to GET THROUGH and GET THAT MEETING.

Here's an easy 10-step process to help you master this key selling skill. Each step explains the goal of the step, exactly what to do, a secret technique to help you out, and a short quote to give you some extra motivation.

I've also included links to various websites and posts that can help you master each step in the process.

Seriously, folks, this may be the most useful stuff I've ever posted.

Click for STEP #1 »
READERS: My new book How to Say It: Business to Business Selling provides everything you need to know get started selling B2B and is now available for pre-sale here:

Barnes & Noble

Step 1. Research Your Target's Business
  • Goal: Enough understanding of the target so you can clearly communicate exactly how you and your firm can add value to your target's company and career.
  • Activity: Use the Internet to review the major challenges in the prospect's industry, the role your prospect's firm plays in that industry, and the role that an executive with that job title typically plays inside his or her firm.
  • Secret Technique: Use an online tool like Insideview to troll online news and get heads-up warnings about your target firms and their executives. Also, BNET Industries is great source of general information and opinion for just about any major industry.
  • Some Extra Motivation: "There is NO substitute for cold calling, especially in difficult economic times." Michael Bosworth
Need some help with this step? Click on: Click for STEP #2 »
Step 2. Research the Target's Life
  • Goal: Extra information that will help you access to the prospect and differentiate you from other sales callers.
  • Activity: Search on the target's name, business and likely city of residence, to uncover additional information, such e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers, work addresses, home addresses, personal interests, trade association memberships, colleague relationships, etc.
  • Secret Technique: Don't just use Google or Bing! Try LinkedIn, Jigsaw, Facebook, etc., and follow some of the links around.
  • Some Extra Motivation: "It's surprisingly easy to build rapport if you know, for example, that your prospect's kid just won a local championship." Marjorie Brody
Need some help with this step? Click on: Click for STEP #3 »
Step 3: Craft a Custom Message
  • Goal: A solutions-focused business message that will appeal to the target, based upon what you've learned in steps 1 and 2.
  • Activity: Craft a message that leads your sales process forward. It must consist of three parts: 1) a title line "teaser" or headline, 2) a paragraph of concise content, and 3) a call to action. Avoid words or phrases that sound like "sales talk."
  • Secret Technique: Use the tone and vocabulary that you would expect to find within an internal memo sent inside your prospect's firm. Emphasize how you'll be able to help solve a problem or achieve a goal.
  • Some Extra Motivation: "Tell them what you and your company have been doing for their company in other areas. If you aren't working with them yet, tell them what you have been able to do for their competitors." Dr. Earl Taylor
Need some help with this step? Click on: Click for STEP #4 »
Step 4: Practice Your Voice Mail Message
  • Goal: A voice mail message that intrigues the target into thinking that it might be worth his or her time to speak with you.
  • Activity: Unless you're very lucky, you're going to be leaving at least one voice mail. Get prepared with a succinct, verbal expression of the message that you crafted in step 3. Do not just read your written message over the phone. Your voice mail message must come out of your mouth naturally, as if it were half of an interesting conversation. Your voice must have the casual authority and confidence that the target might hear in a message left by one of his or her colleagues.
  • Secret Technique: Here's an easy way to practice: call your own voice mail! Try out different wordings, expressions and tonalities, until you can communicate the message directly and naturally. Then ask a trusted colleague to take a few sample calls and critique your performance.
  • Some Extra Motivation: "You've got to be ready. Start with your headline, keep your message concise, ask for a callback, say your number slowly and end the message. And no matter how you end the call, remember that the follow-up is in your court." Linda Richardson
Need some help with this step? Click on: Click for STEP #5 »
Step 5: Test the Drawbridge
  • Goal: More information about the target and a better understanding of the target's personality.
  • Activity: Call your target during off-hours when the admin will be absent. In the unlikely event that the prospect picks up the phone, move directly to Step 10. Chances are, though, that you'll end up in the voice mail system. DO NOT LEAVE A MESSAGE AT THIS TIME! Listen to the prospect's voice-mail greeting. Write down any additional information that's offered, such as an e-mail address, a cell phone number and the name of another employee (such as an admin) who covers the prospect's phone.
  • Secret Technique: Listen carefully to the target's voice mail message for the target's tonality and way of speaking. Does the target sound friendly or businesslike? Are the words clipped or drawled? Being aware of these quirks will help you tailor your messages to the target's preferred communication style.
  • Some Extra Motivation: "The more ways that you have to contact the executive, the more likely you'll be able to get through the noise." Linda Richardson
Need some help with this step? Click on: Click for STEP #6 »
Step 6: Call the Admin and Solicit Help
  • Goal: Additional information about the prospect and, if possible, an ally to help you get through.
  • Activity: Call the target's admin. If you end up in the admin's voice mail, don't leave a message, but keep calling back until you get through. Once you've gotten the admin on the line, use your people skills to build a relationship. Find out more about your target, like the easiest way to reach him or her. If you haven't already gathered this information, ask for target's e-mail, cell phone number and/or direct fax line. Find out whether the prospect comes in early or leaves late. Find out when, if ever, the prospect answers the phone directly. Ideally, you'll be able to get the admin to set up a phone appointment.
  • Secret Technique: If the prospect doesn't have an admin, reach somebody else in the prospect's department by calling the prospect's number, adding "1" added to the final digit.
  • Some Extra Motivation: "Convince them that their boss' time will not be wasted. Don't turn them off, but be friendly and firm (they take direction well). Sound like their boss." Michael Bosworth
Need some help with this step? Click on: Click for STEP #7 »
Step 7: Lay the RIght Groundwork
  • Goal: Make the target familiar with your name, your company and the reason you're trying to get in touch-before you actually make the first real phone call.
  • Action item: Send an e-mail, a fax, AND a traditional letter to the target, all containing a version of the written message that you crafted in step 4. In the e-mail, avoid getting caught by the target's SPAM filter. Your fax should resemble a business letter and not an unsolicited advertisement, which is against the law.
  • Secret Technique: Address the traditional letter by hand. People are far more likely to open and read a letter if a real live human being took some real live time over it.
  • Some Extra Motivation: "One of the most disarming approaches is absolute honesty. Most gatekeepers have developed genuine skills at identifying the subtle and indirect efforts. What many don't expect is a direct approach." Earl Taylor
Need some help with this step? Click on: Click for STEP #8 »
Step 8: Make Your First "Real" Phone Call
  • Goal: A voice mail message that builds rapport and communicates exactly why the target needs to speak with you.
  • Activity: Call the target at a time when the prospect might answer his or her own phone. If you don't know when this might be, call before 8:00am and after 6:00pm (in the target's time zone, naturally). If you get through to the prospect, jump directly to step 10. If not, leave the message that you've practiced, customizing it as necessary to match the target's tonality and preferred method of expression.
  • Secret Technique: Suggest a call back, and give times when you're available for a call. However, don't press the matter or insist upon a call back. It's a big mistake to get pushy.
  • Some Extra Motivation: "Few things are more important in sales than the ability to quickly build rapport." Dr. Earl Taylor
Need some help with this step? Click on: Click for STEP #9 »
Step 9: Be Persistent without Pestering
  • Goal: Make the target realize that you're the kind of person who will move mountains to make your customers happy.
  • Activity: If you don't get a response (and, sadly, you probably won't), continue calling. However, with subsequent calls, don't leave a message and don't call more than once or twice a day. (Any more than that and the target's caller ID might flag you as a stalker.) After about a week with no response, go back to step 6 (if the prospect has an admin) or step 7 (if not.) Repeat this entire process at least three times before giving up.
  • Secret Technique: Don't play phone tag. Let the executive know when you'll be available to take his or her call. Then be ready to take a call from that number, even if you're doing something else at the time.
  • Some Extra Motivation: "There is no greater virtue than patience when it comes to developing a great opportunity." Linda Richardson
Need some help with this step? Click on: Click for STEP #10 »
Step 10: Ask for the Follow-on Meeting
  • Goal: A follow-on meeting that will turn the prospect into a real opportunity.
  • Activity: If you follow the advice above, chances are that you'll eventually get through to the prospect. When you do, use everything you've learned up until now to present the case for a follow-on meeting.
  • Secret Technique: If it turns out that the target isn't interested, don't just hang up! Ask if there's anything else that you can do to help. Ask the target whether there's somebody else in the company or in some other company who might be interested.
  • Some Extra Motivation: "Every customer contact is an opportunity to build a relationship. Don't let today's failure turn into a lost opportunity." Linda Richardson
READERS: You'll find plenty of similar tips and techniques in my new book How to Say It: Business to Business Selling now available for pre-sale here:

Barnes & Noble

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