The quickest way to get a deal over the finish line? Call high.
If you start at the bottom of an organization, you’ll need to identify a potential influencer, earn their trust, figure out their boss’s goals, and train them to advocate for you. Then, if everything goes right, you get to pitch to the decision maker.
So skipping the entire process and immediately connecting to the decision maker saves a lot of time. But that doesn’t mean it’s easier — because executives are extremely busy. They’ve trained themselves and/or their employees to rigorously defend their time.
If you want to win a slot on their calendar, you’ll need to think outside the box. Here are four ideas for calling high successfully.
1) Send a Customized Video
Executives get generic emails from salespeople all the time — but they rarely (if ever) receive videos. Take advantage of this medium’s novelty, and send them a short video.
Luckily, you don’t need a great camera, a creative team, or even any production chops. Just turn on your webcam, or ask a friend to film you with a smartphone. Alternatively, if you’d like to point something out on their website, use a free screencast tool like Loom to record your screen.
That brings us to the script. What should you say? Try to add value in some way: Share an interesting and relevant fact, highlight an article they might like, offer to connect them with their equivalent at your own company, or talk about your experiences with their product.
This approach can also be used to gain access via the gatekeeper. Once you’ve identified who that is, do a bit of research to understand their background and primary responsibilities.
Then record a 30 to 45-second video following this general format:
- Introduce yourself: “Hi [gatekeeper’s name], I help companies in [space] see [X benefit].”
- Explain why you’re contacting them: “It seems like you’re the best person to discuss [executive’s] schedule with.”
- Foreshadow the benefit of meeting with you: “I think [executive] might be interested in learning about [ways to solve X, opportunities around Y].”
- Defer to their influence in your call-to-action: “If you agree, I’m happy to provide more details. Please give me a call at 867-5309, or reply to this email.”
Gatekeepers tend to read more emails than their bosses, so this technique can be highly effective.
Pro tip: Start the video holding a sign with your recipient’s name on it so they know they’re getting a custom video. Make sure this sign is visible in the video’s thumbnail.
2) Give Them Access to Your Early Product
Many executives have gotten to their current position because they’re technically adventurous. In other words, they’re curious about new products and enjoy trying them out.
Use this characteristic to your advantage. Instead of reaching out with a sales pitch, offer access to your beta product. To pique their curiosity, highlight how few of these invitations you’re extending.
Here’s a sample email:
It might go without saying, but make sure you have the green light from your team to give beta access. Nothing would be more embarrassing than having an executive say yes — only to yank back the offer.
3) Help Them With Their Cause
Do some good while building a potentially lucrative relationship — find a cause an executive is passionate about, then email them asking if they could use your help.
Let’s break that down.
- Step 1: Go to the executive’s LinkedIn profile. Scroll to the “Causes” and/or “Volunteer Experience” sections.
- Step 2: Pick a program or nonprofit they’re currently involved in.
- Step 3: Go to that program’s website. Are there any events happening near you? Are they running any fundraising campaigns?
- Step 4: Think of a potential way to contribute. Your quickest option is posting a link to a fundraising or membership campaign on Twitter or LinkedIn, but you could also sign up to volunteer, attend an event, make a donation, etc.
- Step 5: Email the executive to thank them or ask a question.
Here’s a template:
The key is starting an organic relationship founded on something they care about — not guilting them into hearing your sales pitch. Let this connection grow naturally. Executives are usually eager to help people once they’ve earned a place in their circle.
4) Request Their Advice
For another method of winning their trust, solicit their feedback. Most people love to be considered a thought leader or insider, so they’re likely to say yes.
Here’s a general request for advice:
If the executive lives in your area, consider asking for an in-person meeting. It’s easier to forge a connection over coffee than email, calls, or Skype.
Use this general format:
Again, don’t go into this thinking you’ll ask a few questions before launching into your value proposition. You’ll lose all goodwill. Wait until they ask you what you do and/or what you sell, give them a brief description, then see if they have any follow-up questions. If so, you have the green light to pitch.
These four ideas require creativity, time, and energy. But that means you’re probably one of few (if not the only) salespeople your prospect has met who’s not simply inundating them with emails and calls and hoping they’ll submit. You’ll stand out — and when the person who signs the check is impressed with you, business usually follows.