How Forrest Gump and a Homing Pigeon made sales history
"When you absolutely must break through to a VIP prospect, how do you do it?"
It's a fair question, isn't it? There are always a handful of critically important people who, if they were to become your client or strategic partner, could change the scale of your business. But these are also the people who are most likely to have layers of gatekeepers and internal resistance to your calls.
So when you have to get through to someone of great importance, how do you do it?
That was the question I posed to nearly all of the top 100 sales thought leaders over the past year, as part of my preparation for my new book, How To Get A Meeting with Anyone (BenBella Books 2-2016). I expected some pretty neat ideas; what I got was a Master's Degree course in breaking through. Many of the tactics they shared were stunning in their cleverness and audacity.
Mind if I share one with you now?
If you ever saw the movie, Forrest Gump, you'll understand my reference to, 'a certain fruit company.' You know, the one announcing its new watch line-up as we speak. This story concerns a software sales rep who was making great headway on a big sale with the company's engineering staff.
At a certain point, the engineers said, "Okay, now you have to take this up with Purchasing" and sent him on his way. And they, as purchasing folk often do, slammed the door on the whole deal. Undeterred, the rep decided to go straight to the CEO, alas, every one of his e-mails, faxes, calls and letters were ignored. And so in one final attempt to break through, our enterprising rep had a wooden box delivered to the front desk with a handwritten letter.
This was no ordinary box, for it was well-worn and had air holes. And inside, it contained a homing pigeon with a tiny capsule attached to its leg. The rep's letter implored the CEO, "I've tried everything I can think of, your Engineering department loves my solution, but Purchasing won't talk to me. And every letter, fax, phone call and e-mail I have sent you has gone unanswered." The letter continued, "So this is my last attempt to connect with you. If you please, kindly take the tiny slip of paper contained in the capsule and write the name of your favorite restaurant, a date and a time," he said, "then put the slip of paper in the capsule, release the pigeon and I will meet you there."
Well, what do you suppose happened? The pigeon came home to roost, as is their nature, while the rep and the CEO came to roost at his favorite restaurant -- and a $250K deal was inked. He even brought a letter of intent and cashier's check to seal the deal.
Using a bit of audacity is often a great way to break through to people who are inundated with sales reps, pitches, calls, e-mails, faxes and more. Does your e-mail correspondence live up to that standard? Make sure it does.
Stu Heinecke is one of The Wall Street Journal cartoonists, a DMA Hall of Fame-nominated marketer and the author of several books, most recently, How To Get A Meeting with Anyone (BenBella Books), due to release in February 2016. Stu is also the host of Contact Marketing Radio, a show that asks many top marketers and sales thought leaders that fascinating question, "When you absolutely have to break through to someone of vital importance, how do you do it?" The answers will astound you, and might just give you a few tools to start breaking through yourself.
Stu Heinecke Host of Contact Marketing Radio Founder & President of "Contact" and CartoonLink, Inc. Wall Street Journal cartoonist Author of How to Get a Meeting with Anyone