In the day to day conduct of our business, it is necessary to communicate with associates, employees and clients to complete our work. Frequently, we find that some of them are difficult to reach, or worse, unresponsive. Honestly, we may occasionally difficult to reach and unresponsive. All of us have been featured on one side of that coin or the other in our business pursuits. The fact is, all of us have incredible demands on our time. As a result, we prioritize and in that hierarchy we construct, names unfamiliar to us fall toward the bottom of the hierarchy.
When we are trying to reach a high-value prospect, the Holy Grail, the crème de la crème of prospects, we shouldn’t expect it to be easy. This fact leads to the obvious question with a not so obvious answer.
How Do I Make Contact?
As many of us have learned, the only proven method to consistently achieve the conversation you are desperate to have is persistence. At the end of the day, you have to be prepared to attempt reaching your targeted prospect many times in and in various ways. Keep reminding yourself that, at some point, this person was in the same position you are in now during his career. It helps provide you with perspective …and maybe an idea or two. While I can’t absolutely guarantee you a response here are a few tips that may do the trick:
Ten Tips for Successful Contact
- Be confident in your purpose for getting in touch
- You are putting enormous effort into contacting this person. Make sure you are clear in your mind about why. For example, I’m in the business of factoring receivables. I know exactly what benefits I can offer prospective clients and why I am in a position to help them resolve their need or problem. You need to be certain in your own mind that this prospect is worth your blood, sweat and tears … not just another name on your prospect list. If you haven’t put some reflective thought into this, you risk coming across as just another spammer and you will spoil any future with this prospect.
- Keep emails organized, short and to the point
- Three or fewer lines have a better chance of getting your prospect’s attention than a novella. Always end your email with a direct question and that direct question should not be constructed in such a way that it can be answered yes or no! This is an attempt to engage the prospect, not a quiz!
- Remain positive and upbeat
- Voicemail and email messages should convey a pleasant and positive demeanor at all times. No one wants to talk to a brusque, grumpy or boring person. I know you’re going to be feeling frustrated but never convey this to the prospect.
- Execute a multi-channel strategy
- All of us have preferences on the manner in which we receive contact. Some prefer email, others the telephone, still others, a LinkedIn message. You likely have no clue about the preferences of your contact so my advice is to try all available methods. Be systematic about it and take notes. This way you’ll have a record of what you have tried and what remains to be tried.
- Do not stalk
- This may be common sense but it needs to be mentioned. One voicemail or alternative attempt at contact is enough! That’s not to suggest you attempt contact every day. Give it a rest. Let’s just say that a few times per week are plenty or you risk shutting the prospect down completely.
- Employ humor
- Although humor can be a very effective tool, it is important that you exercise good judgment when using it. It can set your message apart from the pile and everyone can use a smile. A friend of mine had success incorporating a funny photo of her into an email message and it brought an immediate response. Humor can show that we are human. Check your prospect’s company website and see if any humor is incorporated. If so, it may give you a sense of the type of humor they appreciate.
- Be polite—to everyone—always
- I’ve already cautioned you about keeping an upbeat and pleasant tone, but it is important to remind you that this warning extends to all those you speak with in your efforts to reach the prospect. After all, they are closer to him than you are. The last thing you need is a tale of your surly tone transmitted to your prospect. Resist any temptation to succumb to your frustration.
- Pick up the phone
- It may be extremely unlikely that your prospect picks up a call, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try once in a while, even if the tactic has failed you in the past. Don’t assume they will not answer. Always be prepared mentally for the possibility that your prospect answers. The best time to attempt this tactic is just before or just after business hours. The gatekeepers are more likely to be away from their posts at these times.
- Ask for help
- While you should never give up, it is okay to give it a rest. If you’re at a dead-end, take a hiatus and come back to it in a couple of weeks. Also, consider the possibility of seeking the help of someone in your network that might be able to connect you or someone who may have some ideas on the subject.
- Make it grow
- One day, you will be successful. The goal will be achieved and contact will be made. Now your focus needs to shift to nurturing a relationship with the prospect. You want to make it a mutually beneficial one, so it is important to make yourself appreciated, even needed. There are many ways to do this. For example, he may have mentioned an upcoming trip to a destination you are familiar with. Offer some tips for a good restaurant or hotel. Tell him about the art museum he shouldn’t miss while he’s in town.