One of the most significant challenges for B-to-B prospecting is getting your foot in the door. This is true whether you are seeking your next client or your next job.
Prospects have so much coming at them so often that we have to work to get their attention. The Wedge blueprint challenges us to do just that by creating influence through value–by serving our prospects before they become clients.
This itself can be a challenge because of the information overload that is out there. In this case, how can we provide value (thus nurturing a relationship) if we cannot even get the prospect’s attention?
This is where many of us might resort to gimmicks. Well, sort of.
Some time ago I shared an amusing and compelling story of Phil, a B2B colleague of yours who had been wanting to get a meeting with a company owner with eighty employees. Phil is in the payroll business and had been unsuccessful for over a year at setting an appointment with this business owner. For the story, which I share all the time when I speak before audiences, check out Man Gives Right Arm to Meet with Prospect.
In a nutshell, Phil took a right arm from a manikin which he got from another customer (a clothing store owner) and packaged it as a gift and delivered it to the prospect with a note that read, “I would give my right arm to have a meeting with you.” As a result, Phil got the meeting, closed a new account, and made a new friend.
I tell this story all the time when I teach the Wedge, and people love it. However, I always have to ask the audience upon hearing the story: “Now, was Phil’s approach a gimmick?”
The answers are always mixed. Some people will say it was a gimmick, and I will follow up with, “Okay…what makes you say that?” Often I will hear something like it was a trick just to get the person’s attention.
Which begs the question: What makes a gimmick? Webster defines the word as “…a trick or device used to attract business or attention.” The key word here is trick—and it points to a gimmick as being dishonest or manipulative. Obviously, if our goal is to build relationships, dishonesty and manipulation are not the ways to go.
My answer to the question above is that while Phil’s approach was novel and definitely out of the box, it was NOT a gimmick in the way it is traditionally defined. Nor was Phil being dishonest or manipulative.
To the contrary, Phil was being honest–he was being clever in order to get his prospect’s attention so that he could send a sincere message. But, one might say, was it not manipulative? That might be a strong word; I prefer the term influential.
So how does this knowledge help you? Are you considering a creative outreach approach or marketing campaign that uses elements you suspect might be perceived as gimmicky? Ask yourself this question: does your approach send a sincere message? Is that message designed to influence the prospect’s thoughts and behaviors in such a way that it will benefit their lives? If you answer “yes” to both questions, you should be safe.
A fellow B-to-B sales professional recently told me, “Times are tough for sales folks, especially when selling to businesses. Any edge I can get would be great.” This is not only true, but if you truly believe in the value you can provide for your customers, it’s your obligation to make yourself stand out.