Quality Outreach … 8 opportunities!

Outreach TargetsIn business development, it is important to make every contact attempt count in order to provide your outreach target with the best information possible. That being said, it’s crucial to be prepared when communicating with anyone in your quest for information. No matter who you get live on the phone, chances are they can provide you with some information; you just need to be equipped with the right questions to ask. Here are some ideas to help you find opportunities for quality conversations, no matter where you are in the outreach targeting process.

1. Leave Effective Voice Mails
When leaving a voice mail, always ask for a call back! Otherwise, you just provide information as to who you are and what you do. Worst of all, you are leaving it up to your outreach target to decide to call you back. Most likely, they’ll ignore you instead. Give outreach targets a call-to-immediate action, and they will be more apt to reach back. It could also be helpful to mention other colleagues within the outreach target’s company that you’ve spoken to, and mention how you can help them overcome an obstacle you know they have. A little research will go a long way in piquing their interest in your product or service.

2. Make Emails Different
Word you emails differently than you voice mails. Chances are, your outreach target already heard at least part of your voice mail, so you don’t bore them with repetition. Instead, add something in the email that will make them want to respond to you. In most cases, you’re contacting them for a reason, so use your research to personalize your email as much as possible. Using information from a previous conversation with the outreach target or with a colleague will build credibility and earn your email a second look.

3. Use Calendar Invitations
Use the calendar invite feature of your email system. Let the outreach target know that you will be sending over a quick request to connect. Once you start trying to get a spot on their calendar, you’ll most likely receive some sort of response. State a specific time and date rather than making outreach targets take the time to examine their schedule and get back to you. In the event that no response is received and the date of the invite rolls around, reach out anyway and leave a message that you will reschedule. Never assume that the outreach target doesn’t want to speak with you until they tell you just that.

4. Utilize Operators Wisely
An Operator’s responsibility is to connect you with the person you desire to contact. Granted, many organizations use computerized call routing and you may have to wade through a number of prompts before you can reach an Operator. If the person you are looking for isn’t in their directory, be sure to ask if he/she is looking at a global listing or a local one. It is possible that the person (or position) you are looking for has been replaced by someone else. It never hurts to ask, especially because it’s the operator’s job to connect you. Who knows, you could be writing off someone important just because they work at a different location.

5. Utilize Administrative Assistants
These professional gatekeepers know more than they let on and are actually a very important part of the outreach targeting process. Find out from them if the person you’re about to leave a message for is even the correct person to speak with about your product or service. If they’re not, ask the Assistant who would be a more appropriate target for your inquiry. They screen a large volume of calls and email, so they’ll be able to tell you if what you’re looking for falls under the outreach target’s responsibilities.

6. No Embarrassment for Reaching Inappropriate Contact
When you do connect with the person you were hoping for, but they tell you they are not the right person to speak with, don’t stop there. Ask for the contact information of a more appropriate person. If they aren’t sure who to connect you with, probe for some piece of useful information that they can give you. After all, they work for your outreach target’s company!

7. Maximize Time with Appropriate Contacts
If you’ve reached the appropriate contact, half of your battle is won. Don’t be discouraged by an unfriendly tone or by rushed answers. We’re all just trying to do our jobs, and we all know what it’s like to be busy. Just relax, take a deep breath, and don’t let the demeanor of one person change your excitement over trying to help them improve their company’s processes and profitability.

8. Your Linkedin Profile
Although connecting with an outreach target via LinkedIn may be a little out of your comfort zone, it doesn’t hurt to connect with those you have already had a conversation with. If you were able to have a great conversation with an outreach target who just wasn’t ready to commit to that next step, send him or her a short, personalized connection request on LinkedIn. When they accept, they’ll have access to all the great information that you share regarding your solutions and will be reminded of you every time they see your post. This will reduce the required efforts. When they are ready to get back in touch, they will have a better understanding of who you are and what your solutions provide.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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