Five tips for landing hard-to-get sales meetings

IN sales, when you have to break through to an important person who is nearly impossible to reach, how do you do it? The best solution is to use a combination of marketing and selling, employing specific campaigns to connect with specific executives.

Here are five tips for making high-level connections:

Deliver something of value: the objective is to deliver something that makes a difference to the recipient. It should express your brand personality but contain no pitch. Your first mission is to create a connection;

Offer something of further value: when you make your request, include something as an incentive for taking the meeting or call. A good approach would be to offer relevant research or a free audit of some aspect of the executive’s business. The point is to add value in a way that helps him do his job more effectively;

Include the executive assistant: many sales representatives try to circumvent or trick executive assistants, but that is a mistake. Think of them as talent scouts on watch for opportunities that their executives would otherwise miss. After they have helped you, thank them with a small gift;

Secure the meeting: co-ordinating a call or meeting among several parties can be tedious. There are several productivity tools, such as ScheduleOnce, TimeTrade and x.ai, that can get your meeting on calendars; and

Connect, do not pitch: at the meeting, be ready to have an exploratory but informed conversation about an issue by researching news stories or mentions in the company’s social media feeds. Share other cases in which you’ve helped similar companies gain new competitive advantages.

(Adapted from “How Top Salespeople Land Hard-to-Get Meetings” at HBR.org.)

© 2016 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation

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