8 Secrets: How to Reach Key Stakeholders Earlier in the Sales Cycle

July 31st, 2014

Sometimes making hundreds of phone calls and sending out countless emails in a week isn’t enough to land deals.  While there are infinite paths that could be taken to get in touch with the right decision-makers, there are a handful of tips and tricks that will often help you to do so quicker—and with higher success rates.

Create a List of Possible Key Stakeholders and Narrow It Down

To be successful, you need use every bit of information you can access either on the company website or social media to find out who they might be.  No matter who is on the steering committee or board, it is often only one or very few who actually have something at stake.  Often these are the key players whose opinions and advice will be respected and followed by the rest of the group based on either their expertise or project responsibilities in a specific area.  You should try to determine who these people are and which ones might be the most appropriate.

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Look for the “Triggers” for Change

If it is not obvious who the key players are, establish observation mechanisms to identify “triggers for change” in target customers and their industry.  Whether it is on social media or in the blogosphere, they can be identified.  Once they are found, conduct in-depth research to gain more insight and help craft a deal-winning value proposition.

Get in Touch with the Least Important People First

Operators and administrators inside the organization often have the most up to date information about job titles and changes in roles and responsibilities. You need to know how decision-makers fits into the organization before you reach them.  This person may also be able to provide you with the direct contact information and most up to date job titles.  When making phone calls, try dialing “0” or “0#” to reach the main switchboard operator.

Contact Them Early

Once you have determined who they are, you need to reach them ASAP.  If they are starting with a procurement process or delegating responsibilities to a support team, you may never be able to figure out who the right contacts are once these processes are already underway and often it is then already too late.

Ask Questions

Checking to make sure you understand the client and actually asking them a few questions is the only way to ensure that you will be able to properly and effectively tailor your message to fit their needs.  Asking questions will help you build credibility by demonstrating your desire to really understand their needs.  Whenever you have any contact with anyone inside an organization, start asking specific questions as soon as you can.

Send Calendar Requests

While this may seem rather bold, it is worth a shot especially if you get the contact information for someone who seems to be working on the right type of project.  Send them a request for a 5-minute introductory call.   If this person is the wrong person, they are likely to take a minute or two to help you find the right one.  Even if they decline your request, they might tell you why they are not interested or refer you to the best person related to the project.

Consider Using An Active Referral Strategy

If you have taken your time to navigate your way to the key decision-makers, you might be able to use social media to discover that there are mutual contacts with some of your current or past clients.  Whether a colleague who has worked with your company in the past has switched companies and is now a part of their team, they have a colleague outside of their own company that is familiar with your company, or you already have someone who would refer you to them who is either a subordinate or a superior in their company, having a referral can be very powerful and build instant trust.  They will help you gain introductions and get even closer to a potential buyer.

Contact Them When They Aren’t Busy (But Still Maybe Working)

Once you get the contact information for those at the senior level, contact them either when they are likely to be on their way into or out of the office—just after 7:00 AM or around 5:30 PM.  Sending emails on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning might make them the most likely to be read.   Make sure your subject line is short in case they are using a smart phone.   Often they are either still working or thinking about it but they are not stressed.  That’s the perfect time to get in touch.

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