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Small Business Savvy: Reaching Key Big Business Decision Makers

As a solo entrepreneur or small business owner, one of our key challenges can be reaching key decision makers in larger companies. Getting to the right person who can seal the deal can be a frustrating experience, especially if you don't have a game plan. Here are three ways to connect with the right people.

Cold Calling

In this age of voice mail, reaching prospects by phone has become more difficult. Cold calling will most likely reap stronger results if you're trying to reach small business owners, where connecting with the owner by phone is more likely, but with persistence you can reach corporate managers as well. There are several important steps you need to take to get results from cold calling-

  • Make sure you write a phone script that, in 30 seconds, will convey what you do and what benefit similar customers have gained from your service. This is essential. You're phone script must answer the prospect's question, "what's in it for me"?
  • Practice your phone script until it feels natural and fits your communication style.
  • Make sure it conveys your excitement about your offering.
  • When you get the right person on the phone, tell them you have some exciting information for them and would they be able to give you 30 seconds to share it.
  • End your script with an intriguing piece of information, specific product results that are impressive, or a question that will make them want to know more.
  • Be persistent. Keep calling at different times of the day until you get the prospect on the phone. Leaving a message is rarely successful, but if you can't ever catch the person on the phone, you can always give it a try.
  • When you get a prospect on the phone, ask their permission to have 30 seconds of their time. When the 30 seconds are up, ask their permission to continue.
  • Also, script how you'll respond to the different possible responses you're likely to receive from the prospect. For example, if the prospect says they're not sure they want to meet with you, what will you say?
  • If the prospect allows you to continue past 30 seconds, tell them you'll be in their area on a certain day and ask if you could meet with them for 20 minutes to continue the conversation.
  • Remember that if you're calling targeted prospects, it's just a numbers game. Call enough people and you'll make some appointments. Make enough appointments and you'll close some sales. Calculating the call to appointments to sales ratio is important in determining if cold calling is working for you.

Warm Calling

You probably have a database of customers and a network of other professionals. Put a simple request out to your database telling them that you have some exciting information, pertinent articles or new products or services and you need to connect with, for example, operations managers in mid-level companies. Ask if anyone knows someone that they could connect you with that fits that category. Offer them a reward, gift certificate or coupon if you feel they need an incentive. If possible, see if they will arrange an introduction by calling or e-mailing this person to let them know about you. Then contact these "warm" leads. They'll be much more likely to respond to your communication. To make this work, you must be very clear about what type of person you need to meet. Saying that you need to meet corporate managers, for example, is much too broad. Those in your database also need to feel that you will not make them look bad or take advantage of their contact, so you need to be clear about why you want to meet these types of people.

Focused Networking

If you were an operations or mid-level manager, where would you hang out in your free time? What business and social organizations would you join? What speakers or topics would you motivate you to attend a meeting?

If you can answer these questions, you can plan to attend the same meetings or socialize in the same places. There are many swim and golf clubs, for example, that are frequented by corporate executives. Even telling people at church about what you do and who you'd like to meet can yield results. Every industry has it's own professional organization and most of them welcome guests.

  • Volunteer to work on a committee.
  • Offer to speak to one of these groups on a relevant topic.
  • Offer gift certificates to be used in a drawing at an organizational meeting.

Focused networking means using your networking time in places where you can connect with your target customer or others who can connect you with your target customer. Before you attend even one focused networking meeting, be sure to have a one or two sentence description of what you do and what problems you solve. Make it intriguing, so people want to know more. Is focused networking a quick fix? Nope. It takes time to build relationships. But once you get started, if you gain a few happy customers in the group, chances are they'll be a ripple effect and you'll find your business being recommended to others regularly. In addition, you may connect with some people who can become sources for your warm calling campaign.

As a small business owner, it's important to develop a network of other business owners so you can support each other and share contacts. Consider developing a six month strategy that includes all of these approaches. Be very, very specific about the type of prospect you're looking for. Track your results so you learn how your time is best spent. I guarantee that six months from now you'll be looking at some very positive results!

Copyright 2004, Janis Pettit

__________

Janis Pettit, Team Member of Solo-E.com and President of SmarTrack , specializes in improving profit and productivity through small business marketing and growth consulting, business coaching, workshops and tele-classes. As well as owning 4 successful businesses over the last 18 years, Janis hosted her own TV business talk show. Her articles have been published locally and internationally. Janis can be reached at 919-562-2280. _________

***** Find more articles like this at http://www.Solo-E.com ? Keeping Solo Entrepreneurs Juiced in Business and in Life. Our team of Solo Entrepreneurs are comprised of small business experts who support others in finding business success with the flexibility and freedom to have a life, too. Network with other freelancers, self-employed and Solo Entrepreneurs in our forums, enjoy our articles and newsletter, and find other online training opportunities. *****

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