How to Gain Access to that Executive You Simply Must See

Reprint from LinkedIn mutual Group.  Kendra is spot on in recognizing and coaching how to win to today’s environment.  Simple and effective.  Is that how you envision your success?  CSea

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How to Gain Access to that Executive You Simply Must See

By Kendra Lee, President, KLA Group

To get in the door in new accounts at the executive level, you must first establish your value with the executive. There in lies the challenge. If you haven’t spoken to the executive, how can you possibly establish value? Follow these three critical steps and you will demonstrate value in meeting with you and get your appointment.

1. Do your homework
Yes, we’ve all heard it before. Do research before placing the first call to get in the door. But it’s what you are looking for that will give you the data you need to establish your value. Look for:

  • Possible business needs – what might be going on in their organization that could lead them to need your offering?
  • Top strategic initiatives – what initiatives is the company investing in? What would your target executive’s responsibility be in achieving those initiatives and how can you help?

Find this information in all the places you have looked before: company web site, business information sites, on-line and printed periodicals, Google search on the executive’s name, etc. Read for possible business needs or strategic initiatives you can discuss in your first call, then craft a message that demonstrates the value you will bring including:

  1. The possible business need or strategic initiative you have identified
  2. How you have helped other companies with similar needs or initiatives
  3. Briefly, how you think you might be able to assist
  4. Meeting request

2. Respect the Gatekeeper
Often you are lucky enough to reach a “gatekeeper” assistant taking the executive’s calls. This “gatekeeper” is your ally in your efforts to schedule an appointment. Use your value proposition with him. This is the second step in establishing your credibility with the executive.

If the assistant believes you can provide value to the executive he will let you schedule time to speak with the executive. After using your value proposition, ask if it would be possible to schedule 20 minutes on the executive’s calendar, acknowledging that you recognize the assistant will need to verify the meeting with the executive. At the same time, ask to leave a personal voicemail for the executive stating your value proposition and why you’re on their schedule, allowing the executive to hear the value you can bring.

By sharing knowledge with gatekeepers, and affording them the respect they deserve, they can speed your efforts in meeting with executives.

3. Use Outlook as a Tool
Many executives do not have an assistant and you will reach voicemail when you call. Cold calling today requires an average of 9 calls before the contact will return your call. To speed the process, and demonstrate your professionalism, credibility, and value use Microsoft Outlook to schedule a 20-30 minute meeting with the executive. Many companies use Outlook, or understand an Outlook calendar request email.

In your initial voicemail, alert the executive that you will be sending two calendar invitation options “in the event that is an easier way to respond”. If you have established your value and hit on possible business needs or a strategic initiative of importance, the executive will accept your invitation, or suggest an alternative time.

How do you get email addresses without a referral?

  • Ask the main receptionist
  • Check the company’s website to see if it is listed
  • Check the company’s website for clues to email formatting conventions and guess

By taking these three critical steps you can improve your odds of establishing the value required to gain access to an executive.

Kendra Lee is author of “Selling Against the Goal” and president of KLA Group. Specializing in the IT industry, KLA Group helps companies rapidly penetrate new markets, break into new accounts and shorten time to revenue with new products in the Small & Medium Business (SMB) segment. Ms. Lee is a frequent speaker at national sales meetings and association events. For more information, contact the company at +1 303.741.6636 or info@klagroup.com or visit www.klagroup.com.

KLA publishes an industry-leading online newsletter. To subscribe and get a free Quota Gap Calculator ($18.95 value) visit www.klagroup.com. For information on sales training, call 303-741-6636.

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2 Comments

  1. Len,
    Thanks for that great example! Once you reach executives, they really are willing to talk if we’ve made a strong impression like you did. I was just at a conference of executives and had to share with you an iteresting occurance directly related to this topic and to making a strong impression.

    I attended a panel on how to work more effectively with senior executives and was not surprised to hear one say how important it is to know their business and have a business discussion in mind when you call. What did surprise me was that no matter what question he was asked, he answered with how important it was to know his business. He said he’d happily respond if he felt a sales rep had done their research!

    So, my tip is to be sure that every technique you use reinforces that you want to have a discussion about their business and have done some research in preparation. You have ideas to share! Include it in your Outlook calendar invitation as an agenda item, alert the admin assistant, recap it in your email, and leave it in the vm.

    And, it has to be more than “I’d like to discuss your business.” You have to be specific that you’ve done some research and have ideas about “their SharePoint implementation and how they might maximize it in different ways” or “the merger they’re going through and how they might streamline processes and minimize the impact of change on employees.” Don’t give away your idea – just leave enough to intrigue them.

    Then when you get them on the phone, make sure you have ideas to share just like Len did!
    Kendra Lee

  2. Comment in LinkedIn accompanying post:

    Kendra:
    Excellent advice and handy tip about Outlook requests. Admin assistants can be extremely helpful. I’m finding that senior executives are often more receptive to cold calls and emails than middle managers. After months of unreturned voice and emails at one company recently, I cold-called a senior V.P. We spent several minutes discussing what my company has to offer and he gave me three company referrals, only one of which I had tried before. Needless to say, an opening line like “so-and-so suggested I call you” increased the interest and return calls exponentially.
    By Len Scaffidi

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