This question has to rank among the top five most commonly asked questions from business development professionals. No matter whether I am doing a keynote, workshop or one-on-one coaching, if I am speaking about business development the question of how to “get in the door” always comes up.
Now this question is asked in a variety of ways including: “How do I get past the gatekeeper?”; “How do I get to the decision maker” or the standard “How do I get a face-to-face meeting with the right person?” No matter the way someone asks the question, the answer is always the same.
If you want to get in the door, then you need to give the prospect a reason to open it. Why? The two most important things a business owner or professional has are time and money, and when you ask for an appointment you are taking up both of those; so it better be worth it for them to meet with you.
Let me show you what I mean. Last month, I had a new client call with a request for some one-on-one coaching in the area of business development, specifically challenged with the ability to get appointments with the right people, the decision makers. He was truly frustrated because he felt like he had tried everything; sales training, networking courses and countless business development webinars. All provided tips and ideas, but unfortunately,y nothing was getting him in the door, let alone putting him in front of the decision maker.
Now, his challenge is that not only does he need to get the door open, but he needs it to get time with the CEO, the decision maker, the hardest door to actually get open. And no matter what he has tried, what new and innovative techniques he learns, nothing seems to get him to the person who can pull the trigger and sign on the bottom line. Why? Well after spending a couple of hours listening to what he is doing, the techniques and tips he has learned, it was clear that from all the time he has invested in sales training, webinars and courses, he has yet to learn the three must have strategies to get in the door!
If you want to be successful at business development, if you want to not only get in the door, but also have a successful meeting, and leave with a definite next step, then you must know and follow the four strategies to get you in the door!
Step 1: Walk A Mile In Their Shoes
– Steven Covey said it best, Seek First to Understand! If you want to get in the door, then first you must understand why that door is closed and what it means to get it open. Time and money are the two most important resources and assets a business owner, professional or CEO has, and when you ask to meet with them you are requesting them to give up a little of both of those. So, from their point of view, when your call comes in asking for some one-on-one time, the first two questions they are thinking are: Who is this person and why should I give them my time? All too often as business development professionals we are only thinking about the sales calls from our point of view, why we need to get in the door and why we need this meeting? If you want to get the door open, then take the time to walk a mile in your prospects shoes, and get clear in your mind as to why it is worth it for them to give up both their time and money to meet with you. Shift your paradigm (and your body language and energy) to ensure they understand you and respect what they are giving up to meet with you, and you are clear in your mind their Return on Investment.
Step 2: Give Them A Reason
– Imagine you are sitting in your office, busier then you have been in weeks, and the phone rings and your assistant wants to know if she can schedule an hour for you to meet with Bill Connor. You think Bill Connor? Who is Bill Connor – do I know a Bill Connor? Your assistant hears the hesitation in your voice, and says he is a relationship manager with VXT Corporation. You think VXT? What is VXT? Do I know anyone from VXT? Okay, you get the drill, if your prospect does not know you, has never met or heard of you, again why should they meet with you. Would you give up your precious time or resources to meet with someone you have never met from a company you know nothing about? I would guess no. You need to have built your reputation to proceed itself (believe me if that were George Clooney on the phone, your prospect may not have met him either, but the door would open) and if possible, you need to have found a meeting, a networking event, a connection, some way somewhere to meet and/or connect with your prospect before you ask for a meeting.
Step 3: Make it Sexy
– Yes, I just put business development and sexy together! But if you want to not only get in the door but stay in the door, you need to be a value-add business development officer. Invest in their success, before you even think about them investing in yours. You need to be more attractive, more enticing than all the other business development officers out there, and I am not talking about a losing ten pounds or buying a new outfit; that is not gonna do it. The only thing “sexy” to a business owner or CEO is how you can make their business more successful and their life easier. You need to be ready to do that earlier on and often, and beyond the scope of them just investing in your products and services.
Step 4: Stay In the Game
– It is true, sometimes Professionals CEOs are just busy, they would meet with you, but truly the timing is all wrong. Crisis happens both in their personal and professional lives, and fit in one more meeting, no matter how valuable just is not going to happen. If you want the doors to open, and if you want to land the business, you need to understand sometimes that just takes time, and that patience is a virtue. Your job is to stay in the game, continue to find ways to connect and add value, and before you know it that the door will open and the meeting will happen.