Take an Account Approach

I have frequently seen sales people focusing all their prospecting energy on one person in a target company. This typically manifests itself in the CRM system as lots of calls to the same person without getting through. The sales person (usually correctly) starts to feel like they are wasting their time calling this person.

I am in favor of persistent prospecting. Too many sales people give up after one (or two) calls to a contact. But continually calling the same person over-and-over-and-over-again is a problem too. What you tend to find in this situation is (a) you manage to annoy your prospect, (b) they start to recognize your caller ID and don’t pick up (even if you block your caller ID, they recognize “it’s that blocked caller ID again”) or (c) you are focusing your effort on a person who almost never picks up their telephone (their phone is always on “Do Not Disturb”).

Some great research conducted by MarketingSherpa showed how many people are involved in buying a sophisticated product over $25,000 in price (in the case of this research the product was technology but I believe the research findings apply to all sophisticated business-to-business products):

– Firm Size, 100-500 employees: 7 decision-makers
– Firm Size, 501-1,000 employees: 14 decision-makers
– Firm Size, over 1,000 employees: 21 decision-makers

The fact that lots of people are involved in buying your product or service means that any one of these people may be a good point-of-entry into a company for you. After all, last time they bought this kind of product that person was involved in the decision-making process.

This means even if your target firms are small, 100-500 employees in size, there are roughly 7 people you can target to get that first elusive meeting or conversation. If the firms you call are 500-1,000 employees in size, there are roughly 14 people you can call. And if you are calling on Fortune 1000 firms, a whopping 21 targets.

So if you are not getting anywhere with the person you are calling, brainstorm a bit. Who else could be involved in buying your product or service? Ask anyone you can at the target company what kind of people get involved in looking at this kind of product (executive assistants are usually the ones to ask). Or try to partner up with a sales rep from another non-competitive firm and ask them what kind of people buy this product at your target firm or any firms that are similar to your target.

Think about how to grow your prospect list at your target accounts. Don’t trap yourself by your prospecting approach.

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