Three Insider Tips for Approaching Corporate Clients
A large number of factors affect whether any prospective job eventuates, but when you’re trying to get your foot in the door of a corporate organization, you have one extra factor to contend with: busy executives in big companies can be notoriously evasive simply because they don’t want to waste their time.
While we can’t alter budgets or professional relationships that might affect our ability to get our foot in the door of a big corporation, there are three crucial steps we can take to ensure that we’re not wasting the prospect’s time.
1. Find out who you should speak to.
In the times I’ve worked for large organizations, I was regularly approached by agencies about work even though there was literally nothing I could do to help them win that work. From my position, literally all I could do was pass their details to the people they should have been talking to — which is never ideal.
It’s critical that you gain access to the person you need to speak to, rather than the person whose email address or phone number is published on the company web site. A good way to identify the person you want is to call the organization and speak to the receptionist. Ask them if someone looks after their web site, or their direct mail and below-the-line communications, or their advertising. If the answer’s yes, write down that person’s name and position title.
When I make this call, I tell the receptionist I want to send the person a letter. This usually makes them freer with the contact’s information than they might be if they thought I wanted to speak to that person on the spot.
2. Do your research.
Every client wants you to understand their business, and large organizations are no different than small ones in this regard.
Before you make your approach, research the company in as much detail as you can. Certainly review the areas of their business that relate specifically to your offering, but don’t neglect to investigate other parts of the prospect’s operations that might affect the areas you work in. Don’t just look within the organization, either — consider external partnerships, marketplace influences and competitors as well.
This research should help you to get a close knowledge of the company you’re approaching, and help you to avoid being ‘just another wannabe’ knocking on their door for work without really understanding how they operate.
3. Keep talking.
Once you’ve made contact, unless the prospect specifically tells you they’re not interested and advises you not to contact them again, stay in touch. Don’t just call them in six months to make sure you still have the current contact details in your database — try to establish a dialog.
This is where all that research comes in handy, even if the prospect wasn’t interested in what you had to offer the first time around. Since you know the organization, you’ll be able to update them, for example, on work you’ve done that actually relates to their own business, or let them know about industry developments that may change the playing field and provide them — and you — with a new opportunity.
It’s important to keep yourself and your offering in mind, and to create the impression that you actually care about the client and their business, rather than giving them the idea that they’re just another name in your ill-managed database.
I think these are the keys to getting your foot in the door of a corporate organization. What tactics have worked for you?