I’m reading Stu Heinecke’s book How To Get A Meeting With Anyone. Stu is the guest on a sales training program I listen to occasionally. He is a cartoon artist who draws personalized cartoons to secure meetings with business owners and CEOs. It works. Big time. His secure-a-meeting ratio is through the sales ceiling His closing ratio is pretty darn impressive too.
Mr. Heinecke’s writes about how he and other sales people get meetings with those oh-so-impossible prospects – the ones that ignore your LinkedIn, Twitter and email requests, phone calls, hand written cards and letters (dare I list fax? sounds ancient).
The stories that Stu tells in his book got me to thinking about the craziest thing I’ve done to get a big account.
Climb aboard your proverbial time machine and set the dial to 2006.
I am now a 23 year-old sales executive with big dreams. I have identified a 200+ location, $3MM account whose print and logistic needs could be beautifully solved by our system.
After months of meetings, demos and building relationships I ask, “Where do I stand? What else do you need from me to make your decision?” The prospect decides to conduct an RFP with the two frontrunners: myself and another print broker five times our size. I have a primordial urge to run. Cry. Hide in a cave and never come out. RFPs make me cringe. My spirit is deflated.
After my self-pity session ends, I make a commitment to myself. I am not going to lose this account. Just because my competitor is bigger and has significantly more resources, I am going to deliver our value proposition in a way that reflects the energy, character and uniqueness of my company. The theme of my campaign is born. Cue Tom Cruise: Mission Impossible.
After hours spent researching my competitor, I determine that they are traditional, “old school” and product focused. Fortunately, the prospect’s team consists of four young, cool and hip people who embrace technology and take risks. Big risks.
My proposal is themed Mission Impossible. I design a murder mystery manual that contains the RFP requested information. The fonts, pictures and phrases are themed and perfectly aligned.
Rather than mailing or emailing copies of my RFP response, I want it delivered in a way that will be remembered. I want them to see my creativity and my competence.
At 8 A.M., the day the proposal was due, the four-member prospect team receives their first clue. They get magnifying glasses that instruct them to be outside their corporate office at 12 P.M. sharp. They are to wait for a couple minutes to receive their next clue.
At 12:02pm a limo pulls up. The driver emerges role playing Dick Tracy. He opens the back door and pulls out a locked metal briefcase. Detective music is playing in the background.
He hands the confused team of four a clue. They solve it, allowing them to unlock the briefcase. Within the briefcase, they each find an envelope that contains a clue and instructions for reading the proposal.
The driver gets back into the limo and pulls away.
The team of four head to their conference room to solve clues and uncover information about our print solution.
When the team finishes reading the proposal, they find a prepaid cell phone. They are instructed to make a call. Eight anxious ears hear the following: “Good morning Mr. Phelps. “Congratulations on a job well done. You’ve uncovered all the clues needed to solve your mystery. The choice is yours. Do you want to work with a company that does what’s always been done, or do you want to work with a company that innovates, thinks differently and will design a custom solution to maximize your print buying needs? This message will self-destruct in 5 seconds.”
Get back into your time machine. Set the dial to “Present”.
I signed a contract two weeks later. I closed my first three million dollar deal.
The moral of my story: get to know your prospect and then do something that will get his/her attention (in a good way). Doing what the other 100+ sale reps are doing won’t work. . Take the time to stand out and give your prospect a reason to hire you. Be bold. Be brave. Be different.
“The best contact marketing techniques are infused with audacity. These are the most memorable campaigns, the ones with the greatest sticking power.”
–Stu Heinecke, How To Get a Meeting With Anyone
This article first appeared in the Print Solutions Magazine produced by the Print Services & Distribution Association (PSDA).