Strategies to Get Noticed (Without Being Annoying)

Leader Standing Out From The CrowdWell, as happens many other times, I drew inspiration for this post from a fellow “Blog Squadder”, Lee Distad.  (That’s “Blog SquaDDer” as in Blog Squad Member as opposed to “Blog SquaTTer”, which is someone who reserves a bunch of WordPress addresses that may be popular and sits on them).

Lee wrote about sales pitches, both the good and the bad, and tried to draw some contrast for those of us out there promoting our wares.  If you missed it, check it out here.

Since my primary role has always been promoting products and services for everyone from IBM to Integrators to my current role at Milestone (Thanks Guys!), it made me reflect on the successes I’ve had in promoting products in the past, and what sales calls ended up being the most productive.

I didn’t want to give the obvious examples of persistence, knowing the product, and approaching each potential customer as a partner and not a conquest, although those are staples of any successful sales approach.

Instead, I thought I’d offer up a few examples that are a little out of the ordinary, and although may not be able to be repeated exactly, may serve as some inspiration for those of you also charged with helping generate revenue for your companies.

1)      Be Memorable.  Remember that you are one of many people from your specific industry calling on your prospect.  Also remember that hundreds of other non-related businesses are calling on them as well.  You need to stand out to be successful.  There are many ways to do this, but I’ll relate the oddest one that ever worked for me.  Get the Hiccups.  If you follow my personal blog, you may be familiar with this story.  The long and short of it is, that one day I was making in person sales calls to potential clients, and ended up with a wicked case of the hiccups.  Instead of calling it a day, I moved ahead, and each call I made, I initially apologized for my . . . hic. . . incurable case of. . .hic. . . the hiccups.  Everyone started giving me remedies to try (none of which worked) and it made the day quite fun.  When I made follow up calls later, I mentioned I was Mark, the guy with the hiccups, and I immediately had a warm follow up conversation, as they knew EXACTLY who I was.

 

2)      Be Creative.  I worked about 7 years as an integrator selling to the production home building space in AZ.  We had some great accounts at both residential firms I worked for, some of the larger names in home building.  That being said, we always wanted more, so I continually went to Home Builder Association Events, called purchasing managers, made face to face calls, and of course made numerous calls and sent a ton of emails.  Everyone knew who we were, but somehow we just weren’t getting opportunities to bid new projects.  Everyone touted low prices or better on time performance, so that message just wasn’t working.  Finally, I asked myself, “What gets the attention of a purchasing manager?”  My answer?  An Invoice.  I proceeded to create mock invoices for every purchasing manager I had called to no avail in the past year.  The invoice line itemed things like “Dropped by office- Trip Charge $75” and “Brochures and Business Cards- $5.75”.  I put three or four of these line items on each invoice, none of them totaling over $200 or so.  Then in the “Notes” section I wrote, “If your current low voltage integrator is nickel and diming you like this, we definitely need to talk.”  An amazing thing happened, everyone called back.  Most of them started by telling me that as they read the invoice their blood began to boil, and then seeing the note, they smiled or even laughed out loud.  Most of them received unexpected invoices from their current integrators that sometimes made little sense, and this one really hit home.  I didn’t get to bid everyone’s next job, but I did get to bid a few more, all from some creative mailing effort.

See related  Communications and Client Management 

 

3)      Reference Competitors.  Some of my best sources of referrals were non-competitive trades.  One in particular was a custom cabinet maker.  They had a showroom in a local Design Center mall where they showcased their Kitchen and Bath solutions, as well as their Murphy Beds and Custom Entertainment Centers.  They needed audio in the showroom, as well as a couple TVs for their wall units, and I was happy to loan some.  Given that we had an investment in equipment in that space, we wanted to get some referrals as well as have some Point of Sale Materials.  In this space, being aftermarket retail, our experience as an integrator was less relevant.  These people were shopping at Best Buy and Ultimate Electronics (remember them?) and our direct competition was the dreaded box store.  Instead of trying to avoid the comparison, (a strategy I see many try with limited success), the marketing piece I did went right at that fact.  It read “Think Outside the Box-Store” at the top, saying that “the competition promises the best buy and the ultimate selection of products”.  It went on to leverage the fact that nothing the prospect was buying came off the shelf, including the cabinetry they were, and that if they wanted a tailored solution, as opposed to being sold overstocked inventory, then they should consider us instead.  It was my small stone slung loftily at Goliath, and we reaped the benefits of many referrals from the partnership and approach.

 

Again, in no way am I recommending using the approaches above as is, but, if you look at your competition, at your core audience, and at the untapped opportunities in your market, you may just find some ways that being memorable, creative, and referencing competitors can play to your advantage and perhaps, grow your business, which is a good thing for ALL of us.