This article originally published on Sales & Marketing Management’s site. Here is an excerpt:
There is always a relative handful of key people who, if you’re able to break through to them, can change the course of your career and the fortunes of your enterprise. These may be large potential buyers of your product or service, mega-potential referral sources or potential alliance partners who can change the scale of your company by giving you access to vast new sales channels.
You need to have a firm sense of who these people are at all times — and a firm commitment to enlist them as part of your success network. Armed with your list, you’ll need to create a profile for each person or group of people you will be contacting. It is critical that you take the time to research these people to understand what they’re experiencing, what their goals are, what they’re doing to get there, who their competitors are, and the framework of their situation. This is what will enable you to turn a quick start of a conversation into a dialog, a dialog into a relationship, and a relationship into deals and referrals.
Then it is time to create your Contact Campaign. Contact Marketing is like having an advertising agency create a specific campaign to support a single, critical sales or business development approach to each VIP contact. Like any form of marketing, you’ll need to test and then sharpen your approach. I tend to test in rounds of 10 contacts, then evaluate and adjust the approach as needed.
Engaging the executive assistant
Most of my contact calls start by seeking out the target executive’s assistant. When I make contact, I start by explaining that I’m one of The Wall Street Journal cartoonists and I have a print of a cartoon I want to send to the executive. I ask if I can send an email to confirm the details, which gives me direct access to the assistant, provides a written explanation of my reason for contact and gives them something they can easily pass along.