In the quest to bring your invention to market, your ability to talk to decision makers will have a huge impact on your success or failure. Many inventors have trouble knowing how to identify decision makers and have an even harder time carrying on a worthwhile and intriguing conversation with them if they do get in touch. To help you out, I have created a simple guide on how to talk to anyone.
The guide is setup in three parts;
1. How to identify decision makers
2. How to engage them in conversation
3. How to get commitments
I. How to Identify Decision Makers
A. Research (Website, publications)
B. Manta.com, Linkedin.com
II. How to Engage Them
A. Create a compelling argument
C. Appeal to their self interest
III. How to Get Commitments
A. Discuss win-win situations
B. Persistent follow-up without ‘nagging’
C. Positive Reinforcement
Identifying decision makers can be a daunting task for some. Many people tend to shoot lower than they should and thus miss the very people who can get things done on their behalf. On the contrary, it is key not to aim too high and be labeled a pest. When it comes down to it, this step is all about research. You need to read through the company’s website, their news publications, and the “about us” section. If you can find specific staff positions, analyze which individuals should theoretically be the decision makers for helping you achieve your goal. For example, who determines which products get a formal review? It probably isn’t the Chief Financial Officer.
Your research can be aided by extremely useful sites like Manta.com and Linkedin.com. If you are not a member on LinkedIn.com, you should be. There is absolutely no excuse to not being – you can keep your profile private and it is free. Once you setup your account, try advanced search and look for individuals who work for certain companies in particular positions.
How to Engage Them
When you contact people, offer a compelling argument of why it is beneficial for you to talk. Why should they respond to your message? Your first priority is to prove credible to the contact. In a world where emails are sent like telemarketer calls were in the 90s, you need to separate yourself from the herd.
There are several things you can do to gain credibility. Here are a few of them.
- Similar Contacts:
If you know similar people, this is a big leg up as it is a validation of who you say you are if the contact is reliable. If possible, have them make an introduction even if it is an acquaintance.
- Offer Personal Credibility:
Have you had prior professional successes that you can point to via an online resume? Do you have references you can provide?
- Offer Product Credibility:
Has your product been tested? Has your product been featured in a magazine?
After gaining credibility, appeal to their self interest. Do not ask for favors. Few people walk through the business world with a Red Cross badge on their arm and for good reason. This is a capitalist economy, not a socialist one. You are looking for what benefits you and should not expect others to just do favors for you. Talk to them about the potential this holds for them as an individual or to the company they work for. Do not be cheesy about it – offer sincere opportunities for win-win situations.
How to Get Commitments
After creating a compelling argument as to why they should talk to you, you should be able to get a commitment for a review of information you send, an introduction to someone else in the company who can help you, or a follow up call.
If you fail to get a response within a week, follow up with a phone call to the office and ask for the person by their first name. If they ask who is calling state your real name and your company name. If they ask what you are calling about, state that you are following up regarding your product evaluation.
Once you get them on the phone, with a smile on your face, introduce yourself and see if you can engage them over the phone regarding your product. Be empathetic to their situation – you most likely do not like getting random calls. Few people do. Be gentle, be compelling, appeal to their self interest. Be an interesting person to talk to.
Whenever someone tells you they will do something make sure you put a date on it. For example if someone tells you, “I will review it and get back to you”, respond with a, “Great. I’m going to be very busy through Thursday of next week with Meetings but I could talk Friday. Would 10 am work for you?” Adjust according to their response but get a time that they have approved you can call them back.
I hope this article has been of value to you. Feel free to email me if you have questions or need a little advice in your pursuit to sell or license your IP.
When you work with us, you get my personal cell phone number. We care about your success.
Eric Corl is the President of Idea Buyer LLC, a new product development company that owns and operates IdeaBuyer.com. You can email him at EricCorl@IdeaBuyer.com.