Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with @JillKonrath. Jill Konrath is an internationally recognized sales strategist and bestselling author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies, an Amazon Top 20 Sales Book since 2006. Jill began her sales career at Xerox then moved into technology sales and finally she sold services. As a consultant, she’s worked with companies like IBM, GE & Staples. Plus she’s been featured on ABC News, Fox 2, Entrepreneur, New York Times, Selling Power, The Business Journal and many more publications. Jill is on the front edge of what it takes to be successful today — with fresh strategies for selling to crazy-busy buyers. For more info, visit http://www.jillkonrath.com/
SmallBizLady: Do bigger companies really want to do business with small firms?
Jill Konrath: Absolutely. They do all the time. If you sell to smaller biz now, you definitely should go after bigger companies. The key is to find niches where you don’t compete head-on with their existing suppliers. For example, I initially tried to sell sales training programs, but it was too tough to compete. Then, I realized that my main competitors had gaps in their offerings. They only wanted big, easy projects. I was more flexible and could do special projects – like product launch sales training. It was a great fit.
SmallBizLady: So how do you get started selling to the corporate market? It can be pretty intimidating.
Jill Konrath: It can. You think that everyone in there is really smart and can’t figure out what you have to offer. But the reality is, you’re creative. You’re talented. You’re willing to work your butt off for them. And, what most people don’t realize is that just about everyone in those companies is crazy-busy. They really do need to find trusted resources that can help them get their job done. The hardest part is setting up meetings.
SmallBizLady: Let’s talk about that. Corporations are big. How do you find the right person?
Jill Konrath: You go to the company’s website first. Often you’ll find they have multiple business units. Within each business unit, there are multiple independently run divisions. Each one is like its own company. Like at GE, there’s Power, Healthcare & Finance. In Healthcare, there’s Cardio, Ortho & Women’s Health. So you focus in on just one to start with & learn about it. Then, you decide which position you want to reach.
Next go to LinkedIn and do some advanced searches using keywords like “GE + Ortho + Safety Director”. Some names pop up. You may not be able to see them. Copy/paste their job description in Google and you’ll find them that way.
SmallBizLady: How do you know when you’ve found the right person?
Jill Konrath: You can never be sure till you’ve talked with them. But you can get some good clues by reading their job descriptions. I also suggest that you check out “People Who Looked at This Profile Also Looked at These Profiles.” You’ll find lots of co-workers there. They might be the right person, too. Read their bios. See who looked at their profiles. You should end up with a list of 5-10 people who you could contact. It’s a starting point.
SmallBizLady: But LinkedIn doesn’t have their phone numbers or emails. So what do you do?
Jill Konrath: You could try to contact the corporation to get this info, but they usually won’t give it out. That’s why I suggest you use a service like #ZoomInfo or #Data.com or #NetProspex.com. You can get emails & phone #s for a small fee or by bartering other contacts of yours. It’s totally worth it because it saves you days and aggravation.
SmallBizLady: Okay. We know who to contact and we have their info. Now what?
Jill Konrath: The last thing you want to do is sound like everyone else who contacts them. Corporate decision makers get 150+ email messages and 10-20 voicemails each day. Everyone says, “Hi John. I’d like to introduce myself. I’m the founder of XYZ company and we specialize in..”[insert type] services/product. The reason I’m calling is that I’d love to find out how you’re handling your needs…” today and share with you how we might help. I’d be glad to meet at your earliest convenience.”
SmallBizLady: That sounds pretty nice – not salesy at all. Is something wrong with it?
Jill Konrath: Yes. Everyone is using that same message. Corporate decision makers hate it. To them, you’re a total loser. So they delete it as fast as they can. Delete, delete, delete. You’re blasted into sales oblivion. In fact, with email it takes them 2.7 seconds to decide to delete you. With voicemail, it’s about 7 seconds. So it’s grossly ineffective. You need to totally change what you’re doing.
SmallBizLady: To what? Is there a different way that works better?
Jill Konrath: There sure is. You need to sound like a business person — not a salesperson. Establish credibility in your 1st sentence. “John, Jill Konrath calling. In working with other tech companies…”
Or, “In researching your company, I noticed that one of your primary initiatives in 2013 is…”
Or, “Martina Emmanual suggested I get in touch with you.”
No nice introductions. Get right to the point. Sound like you’re a colleague – even though you’re scared.
SmallBizLady: What do you do next?
Jill Konrath: Pique their curiosity. Let them know you’ve done your homework. Share ideas with them. Let them know how you’ve helped other companies. You might say, “I see that reducing time to market is key in 2013…” “I’ve got some ideas on how you might speed up ramp up time with your salespeople.” And then say, “Let’s set up a time to talk.”
The key is to talk in words that they care about. You never talk about your product or service.
SmallBizLady: Email or voicemail – which is better?
Jill Konrath: Use both. Concurrently. Leave a voicemail and follow up right away with an email suggesting a meeting. After a couple voicemails/email rounds, then go to email primarily. It’s easier to get responses. Plan on making 8-10 contacts before you actually get someone. It’s not stalking. It just takes that much time. Also, each message should be SHORT (75 word email, 20 sec. voicemail) and different.
SmallBizLady: Wow. That’s a lot to remember. Can you give us more examples?
Jill Konrath: Not in the time left. But I have tons of free resources on my website that people should check out.
Get my Prospecting Tool Kit, which includes a 45-minute audio on this topic: http://bit.ly/tRsYwe
Find out how to write emails that work in my free Email Sales Kit: http://bit.ly/15AtUvr
Check out my eBook on Cracking the LinkedIn Sales Code http://bit.ly/19MKBVv
Download 2 chapters of Selling to Big Companies: http://bit.ly/19MKGIO. It’s free, too.
They’re all free resources and they help you understand what I’ve been covering in this TweetChat.
For more tips on how start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com.