Voicemail is perhaps the hardest gatekeeper to get past in the SMB market space. Executives play many roles and have little time for sellers. They use voicemail as their screening tool and you need not only a great message, but perseverance and creativity to crack through. Try these secrets to reach your top SMB prospects.
- Leave a voicemail every other day. It’s basic but effective and many of your competitors aren’t calling anymore. Too many sellers feel voicemail messages make it easy for an executive to ignore them, so they send emails only. But if you don’t leave a voicemail, how does the executive even know you are trying to reach him? Email doesn’t replace voicemail where the executive can hear your interest and passion. Not sure what to say to catch the executive’s interest? See Getting Past the Executive Gatekeeper
- Suggest two dates and times you might have a 15 minute conversation. Tell the executive you will hold the times on your calendar – and do it.
- Use the 3 Cs in an email. Recap your voicemail in an email. Make it compelling, consultative, and concise. Demonstrate your attention to detail by including the times you suggested to talk.
- Call anyway. Book the times you suggested on your calendar and unless you hear from the executive, consider it an appointment. Follow-up at the exact times you mentioned to demonstrate reliability. Let the executive hear your interest in speaking with him, your professionalism, and your message. Suggest another time to talk, and continue following up.
- Use Microsoft Outlook’s calendar and send an invitation for the two times you suggested. This is one of my favorite ways to connect to executives. Many companies today use Outlook to maintain their calendars. If you use it as well, turn it into an opportunity to schedule an appointment. I’ve had executives who accepted a calendar invitation without ever speaking with me because my message was compelling and timely. Some sellers who hear this are worried about the executives who don’t use Outlook. When you send an Outlook calendar invitation to someone who doesn’t use it, the invitation simply comes through as an email with the subject, date and meeting time request. If it concerns you, mention in your email that you also will be sending two Outlook invitations in case that is an easier way to respond.
- Find the executive on LinkedIn and send an invitation to connect. If you aren’t using LinkedIn, get connected and start networking. This is a hidden gem more sellers are employing for networking and relationship building. And isn’t that what you’re trying to when you place a call? When an executive receives a request to link to you, he’ll know you are serious.
- Call Sales and ask for an introduction. Sales reps understand your position. With a compelling message, they will answer your questions, suggest needs you hadn’t thought of, and may stop by the executive’s office and tell her about you.
- Send follow-up emails every 4 business days. Email is an easier response mechanism for executives and if your message is strong, including business results that are a priority, he will accept a meeting eventually. Don’t forget to continue your voicemails.
- If you reach an assistant, use your compelling opening and ask for 15 minutes on the executive’s calendar. Remember, an executive’s assistant knows the executive’s business priorities and can quickly admit, refer or drop you.
- Call 9 times or more – enough that the executive knows that you feel you have a compelling message and are passionate about speaking with him. One seller I know doesn’t stop at 9. He calls until he reaches the executive personally to get a response.
For any seller working in the SMB market, being able to successfully break through the voicemail gatekeeper and get the executive’s attention is mandatory. It will take some patience and persistence, but the time you invest will help you gain executive access putting you light years ahead of making a blind cold call.