You grab your list of daily calls and see next to their names a title of three letters. You pause and then think about either stories you’ve been told or experiences you’ve had when calling these individuals in the past. Your eyes focus on the first name. You wonder, “Will an assistant answer first? How much time will I have? What will I say? What’s my response if they don’t have time? What if the person I’m asking for answers?” You start to dial. The phone picks up and you take a deep breath. You recall the words you’ve uttered numerous times on these calls. That internal clock starts ticking as you utter your first question.
Working in sales, you learn to accept rejection on a daily basis. You’ve heard it many times, C-levels don’t have time for these calls. They don’t take solicitations or callers without an appointment. But this call will be different. If your goal is to get a meeting with these officers, then there are a few questions you need to know and ask yourself to prepare for the call. Success comes with your initial conversation. That first conversation will either win it or lose it for you.
1.) Know your audience. If your call is to the CIO, know and speak IT terms. What are they like? Do they want to be sold to or informed? What makes them want to evaluate a system? This call is all about them and not what you have to say. They want to be heard. They want someone who can listen and provide a solution.
2.) Know that there’s always an assistant. Their main job is to keep their boss’ time free. Do they really understand why they should free up their boss’ time to speak with you? How much information do they need to know before you lose them? Do you have any contacts they would know? Will your topic resonate with them? Are they going to use the system or require others to use it? Do they want technical jargon or references?
3.) Lastly, be succinct and to the point. They are very busy people. Indicate from the start why your message is important and respect their time by your one-sentence statement. Prepare a thought-provoking question that’s open-ended and requires a response besides yes/no. Remember your product is the greatest one out there, but it’s only a solution to them if it helps solve their problem. What drivers are there? Do you understand the entire issue and the implications? What’s driving the decision? They may have assigned someone to head up the project for the solution you are discussing. Find out if there are others who they would include in the conversation. If they give you names, consider it a win. And even better, you’ll know it’s an important topic if your contact has established a team to tackle the issue.