Opening Doors with New Tools

By Heather Baldwin

Imagine you are at home opening your mail and you find an unsolicited brochure about some product or other. What do you do? Chances are you drop it in the trash, which incidentally is right in front of you because that’s where the majority of people open their mail. Well, guess what? The vast majority of leads to whom you send your brochures are going to do the same thing. When you want to get access to decision makers, particularly decision makers in big companies, brochures and catalogues simply aren’t going to cut it. You need some new tools, says Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies (Dearborn, 2005). Konrath offers the following ideas to help you break through the clutter.

Success stories. Business leaders are always interested in knowing how other companies tackled the same challenges they face. Make sure your success stories focus on the business results your customers attained.

White papers, special reports and tips booklets. These documents must be highly informative and not a sales pitch. If they are well written and educational, they will significantly enhance your credibility.

Relevant articles. Whenever you find an article you think would be of interest to your prospect, send it off with a quick note, such as: I thought of you when I read this. That’s it. If your note gets long or sales-y you’ll fade back into the clutter.

Seminar invitations. “This is one of the best ways to get decision makers to check you out, especially if they don’t have to leave their office,” says Konrath. “Offering information-rich teleseminars, Webcasts or even formal seminars positions your company as a thought leader in your industry.”

Newsletters. A newsletter with useful, current content that is sent regularly is a great way to keep in touch, establish your company as an expert resource and keep your name in front of customers. Just make sure newsletters are strictly sources of information, not brochures or advertisements in disguise.

Books. Read any good business books lately? If so, and if the book was relevant to one of your prospects, buy another copy and send it off with a personal note. “It can be a small investment with a high payback,” says Konrath.

Precontact referral letter. A letter from a customer in a related industry sent on your behalf is a great way to open doors, particularly if the customer and the prospect know each other. Help the willing customer write the letter to minimize his or her workload.

Gift baskets. Like books, gift baskets can be small investments with huge paybacks. They open doors, particularly if they are well thought-out to match a prospect’s hobbies and preferences.

Free samples. If it works with your product, free samples can be an effective part of an account-entry campaign. Just be careful not to give away too much, cautions Konrath.

Postcards. Everyone reads postcards. If you send one that contains tips or valuable information, your prospects likely will keep it.

You’ll notice, Konrath concludes, that these tools can be delivered in many ways – letter, email, fax, FedEx, courier and so on. “In your account-entry campaign you want to use a variety of methods to keep your message fresh,” she says.