Here’s a reality that true Entrepreneurs will eventually face: The NEED to prospect customers. There’s no exception on this because every business person will have to eventually try to get his share of the market by leaving his comfort zone and try to get a contract with someone, whether that is an investor, a company, or a person. Believe me, there’s no exception.
A REAL entrepreneur WILL have to HUNT!
And since most businesses nowadays are all digital, a harsh reality is that many of us have lost the ability to effectively pitch people about our services and products. Yes, most of us are not salesmen anymore. Nowadays that’s rare. We do know how to build stuff but we don’t know how to SELL it or how to PROSPECT people when we have to.
How do you make people buy your product? How do you prospect online and offline? What do you say? How do you behave? How do I get a prospect’s email?
These questions have answers. The right answers.
And I’m going to talk about all of them in this single article.
Because I want to show you how you can be truly effective when prospecting ONLINE and OFFLINE.
Here’s how to hunt.
THE ONLINE vs OFFLINE DIFFERENCES
First of all, there’s no better option from my point of view because nowadays, you must learn how to do both. You must know how to get customers online and how to get customers offline because that will make you a more COMPLETE entrepreneur, solidifying your skills in a way that you’ll be able to survive in any situation.
That’s why both styles are important to dominate.
But of course, there are some differences between them which I’ll point to you now.
- GOOD POINTS
– Easier to build human connections instantly
– Easier to passthrough company hierarchies and get to the big guys
– Easier to get more contacts from different company areas at once
- BAD POINTS
– Takes more of your personal time
– You don’t always get the right contact information
- GOOD POINTS
– Much easier to get the right contact information
– Saves you a lot of time since you can prospect multiple companies in minutes
- BAD POINTS
– Harder to passthrough company hierarchies
– Harder to get a response from prospects
– Harder to build instant relationships
These are the key points of each prospecting style.
Now let’s begin to talk about why you came here.
#1. OFFLINE PROSPECTING — THE CLOTHING
One important thing to know right away is that if you’re going to your prospect’s environment then you MUST know the dress code. Why? Because the way of presenting yourself is the way your company thinks, that’s why clothing is key. And although nowadays we have different companies with different dress codes (like jeans + t-shirts), the “handsome professional style” still sells very good for both the innovative enterprises as for the old school guys.
My recommendation is that you go knock on companies’ doors wearing one of these 2 options:
- ALL SOCIAL — Blazer/Suit + Social Shirt + Social Pants + Social Shoes
- PARTIALLY SOCIAL — Blazer/Suit + Neutral Shirt + Jeans + Social Shoes
You must calibrate things, though. Because if you go with the “ALL SOCIAL” style where people are used to wearing jeans and funny t-shirts — like in advertising agencies — they will INSTANTLY think the following about you:
“OH NO! Not this old corporate business style here in our environment!”
Yes. And they’ll turn you down just because you’re selling the wrong impression.
That’s why I usually pick the “PARTIALLY SOCIAL” dress code to prospect companies because it gives people the impression of “Successful and relaxed guy” (and sometimes just gives the impression of a douche, but that’s OK for me 😛 ).
OK let’s move on and continue.
#2. OFFLINE PROSPECTING — THE BUSINESS TALK
Usually, when you are going to prospect a company you’ll either talk with a receptionist or with a body guard of some sort. Someone low-level in the hierarchy of the company. This is the most common case, especially if you’re pitching big companies. But why is this important?
Answer: Because of that employee’s mindset.
What you must understand is when you talk to a receptionist or other low-level employee (hierarchy speaking of course) your approach will be TOTALLY different from if you were dealing with a manager or a supervisor directly. This is why I’ll show you now the “business talk” templates you should consider using in order to get maximum results. Just the main ones you need.
“Hi! My name is [YOUR NAME HERE] and I’m an Entrepreneur.
I need a contact information of someone from the [AREA YOU DESIRE] because I need to talk about an important Project for this company, but the person must be at least on Management level, or above. And simple phone number or an email will do.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The situation here is simple: You must speak with AUTHORITY when talking to those levels of employees. Why? Because those types of employees only respond to authority. So when you ask them something important like a piece of contact information, DO NOT go “asking for directions”, approaching them like they are at a higher level than you. No. Speak like you are THEIR BOSS! Always. Because when you do that, you’ll make them think 3 things:
- “Does this guy know my boss?”
- “This guy is an authority. So if I don’t give him what he wants, I will get fired somehow.”
- “This guy has some friends. He seems to know more high-level people than me in the market.”
Why? Because since they don’t know your connections with their boss or the other bosses from other companies and since they don’t know how much influence you have in the field, they will probably give you the contact information you need. Seriously. And the motivation will be the fear of getting fired for denying basic contact information in exchange for a “Beneficial Project for the company”. This will make them look dumb to their boss, making them look like they have rejected “GOLD” just because of a phone number or an email address. That’s why they will give you what you want.
That’s personal experience. Because of all 20 big companies I went to prospect in a single day, ONLY ONE refused to give me what I wanted. That’s why taking this approach works best. Be authoritative.
PS: AREA YOU DESIRE = Marketing, Sales, Financial, Support etc
“Hi! My name is [YOUR NAME HERE] and I’m an Entrepreneur.
I want to present to you a Project that will change your way of doing things. It’s about Intelligent Marketing [CHANGE THIS PART]. And it was built for companies like yours. If you give me your email address or phone number we can set up a meeting and I can show you how it works. It will only take no more than 1 hour.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: When talking with the leadership of a company the game is totally different and you have one goal: You must speak with authority, objectivity and without looking needy. The authoritive behavior will sell that you can help them with what you have. The objectivity approach is a particular thing that high-level leaders love to hear because you’re making them see they’re not having their time wasted by hearing you. And the part where you portrait yourself as NOT needy is important for making them to BELIEVE that you already got other companies interested and you’re successful.
This is what you’ll make them think:
- “Hmmm this guy is serious about his solution. He must have something really good!”
- “This seems an opportunity. Is not everyday that someone with a good solution comes here”
- “If I see he has something great that can help our company, my boss will promote me”
These are the 2 main levels you’ll be dealing with when prospecting. From my point of view, knowing these business-talk templates is all you need to succeed and get what you want.
Got it? OK.
Now let’s take a look into the another important part: The Body Language.
#3. OFFLINE PROSPECTING — THE BODY LANGUAGE
I don’t know if you are familiar with the science behind human communications but when you speak with ANYONE in person, your communication process is split this way:
- BODY LANGUAGE — 55% of what you’re saying is your body language
- THE TONE OF VOICE — 38% of what you’re saying is HOW you’re saying
- THE WORDS — 7% is your actual words
This gives us backed by science proof that the body language is a KEY point for us to succeed when prospecting companies. We must talk with our bodies effectively for the overall approach to work.
Well then, to maximize your results I’ll point out to you what you should be physically doing with your body, in order to get the most out of your in-person hunting process.
- BODY RELAXED — Maintain your body all relaxed is the first important part. You must imagine like you are dealing with someone inside your house and he’s the guest, not you. Create the frame in your head that the world is yours and that company is just another part of your kingdom. If you cheat your mind that way, you’ll be fully relaxed.
- ARMS VARIATIONS — Your arms will speak a lot about you, so keeping them sending the right message is a must here. And here are some positions to sell authority with your arms: 1. One hand inside your pants’ pocket and another hand loose; 2. Two hands inside your pocket; 3. Both hands loose; 4. Both hands with the first 3 fingers on your waist; 5. One hand on your waist and another hand pointing to the person you’re talking to, but with the palm of that hand OPEN and pointing UP; 6. Both arms wide open with the palm of both hands pointing up; 7. Both hands (or one hand) open with the palm of it facing left or right, and in the line of the person’s eyes like if you were about to cut something with your hand(s) in front of them.
- SLOW MOVEMENTS — Remember that once you are TRULY relaxed, your natural body response should be slow movements. It’s like you don’t care at all about the outcome of what’s happening at the moment because you are in charge. Your mind must BELIEVE that there’s NOTHING the other person can do or say to desestabilize you. So if the person who you’re talking to gives their hand to shake yours, your arm should go slightly slower to complete the handshake. Why? Because this will instantly communicate to that person that you have peace, confidence and solid experience about what you said and what you’re doing. And that’s powerful.
- LOCKED EYES — Your eyes will deliver a totally different message to a person even if you have done everything else right. So one thing you must do, is to remember that while you’re speaking, your eyes must be locked on the person’s eyes as much as possible. To send the right message with your eyes, you can be thinking this while you talk: “I have gold and you got a chance to take a piece of it”. Period. This will make them believe you’re an authority and avoid them think of you as a creepy guy. So if you look into the person’s eyes with THAT mindset, you can be sure you’ll communicate with confidence and all the rest that’s necessary to make people believe you. And to complement this point, you can read this FBI article about Behavioral Anomalies to help you realize what NOT to do as well.
- TONE AND RHYTHM OF VOICE — How you say it is very important too. The key thing here when talking to someone is to do ups and downs on voice volume while you’re talking. You need to emphasize the right words and “highlight” the key points of what you want. In the Receptionist/Bodyguard template for instance, you should start with a low voice tone and raise the tone right at the highlighted part: “BUT the person must be AT LEAST on Management level, or above”. This will make the person who’s listening see that you know what you want while at the same time, you’re giving them a “sense of a mission” that needs to be accomplished. This helps a lot. So say your pitch calmly and add pikes of volume on the points that matter the most, and end your request smoothly.
This takes practice, I won’t lie to you.
But once you start paying attention to all these communication signals you’re giving to prospects, you’ll begin to master all of them very quickly. Because your brain will learn how to TRIGGER all these actions automatically once you’re facing a situation that you need to enter “business mode”. But these communication skills come with a little bit of practice.
And if you want to know more about body language, here’s something worth watching from a Ted Talk event:
Ok. Time to go to the next logical step: Phone calls.
Here we go.
#4. OFFLINE PROSPECTING — PHONE CALLS
Most of the times when prospecting offline, you’ll get only phone numbers from the management area (or any other area), which will make you either deal with a secretary or with the manager himself. There’s almost nothing different from the business talk template I gave you before, but you must keep one thing in mind though:
So the key point here is to be as objective as possible and go straight to the point of why you’re calling them because the person on the other side of the phone, won’t pay too much attention to what you’re saying. So keep things simple. And remember to highlight these points below right away:
- who you are (add social proof if possible)
- what you want
- and why you want it
It’s hard and most of the times you’ll get ignored.
But not everything is lost, that’s the good news.
Because there’s a subjective advantage that phone calls can give you that other techniques can’t, which is this:
Why? Well, mostly because of 2 things:
1. The person will be morally forced to at least take a peek to not be seen by HIMSELF as a lier.
2. The person will recognize your email because you spoke to her directly, breaking the “cold” impression.
Makes sense? Yes, it does.
And that’s it. Play with these techniques and get to work because that’s all you need to know about offline prospecting to succeed.
And now, we will learn how to prospect using just our laptop 🙂
Time to talk about online prospecting.
Here we go!
#5. ONLINE PROSPECTING — THE GOOGLE HACKING
This “Google Hacking” term was born thanks to a famous book called Google Hacking for Penetration Testers which you can buy here. The idea behind online prospecting starts with this Google Hacking approach, which involves searching and figuring out KEY contact informations about a company OR a man in charge you want to prospect, by using advanced search terms as a tool to find whatever you are looking for.
Ok, what you need to know about advanced search terms for prospecting, is this:
- + — Place the ‘+’ between search terms to concatenate isolated terms into a single query. This helps you find content with 2 areas inside a same piece of content. If you don’t know how to assemble a search that involves 2 unrelated areas, this is very useful to do that.
- " " — Place the ‘" "’ around search terms to find these exact words in your results. This helps you find an exact match for a specific longtail search.
- filetype: [document extension] — Place doc, xls, pdf and other file extensions to find documents of that type which has your search terms. Powerful way to look for documents with your search terms inside.
- intext/allintext: [search terms] — Place search terms after this operator to find an exact match of those terms specifically on the content, and not the title nor any other part of a page. This will help you avoid click baits and will also help you find content that is merging 2 or more keywords.
- inurl/allinurl: [search terms] — Place search terms after this operator to find an exact match of those keywords specifically on the URL of a link. This helps you filter and narrow your search on a specific website or on any other result given by Google.
These are the necessary advanced search terms you need to know in order to find some contact information about your prospect or a company. There a lot others you could use like “intitle, site” etc, but we won’t be needing them for what I’m about to show you right now.
OK! The next step is merging it all together in a very smart process to find what you want.
But how do you ACTUALLY do this in practice?
Let’s assume for example that you want to send an email to someone important at SANTANDER. What’s the logical social network to think on, in which you can find professional information about a company or a person?
Yes, that’s right. LINKEDIN!
If you do a NORMAL search by typing [company name] [linkedin] you’ll find that Linkedin has a URL pattern you need to pay attention to, because that will help you narrow down your searches and focus on certain things faster. Here, check the image below:
You can see that EVERY COMPANY has the piece “/company/” on the URL.
Question: But why worry about this?
Answer: So you can list up front only the company’s linkedin page when searching for it.
Sometimes that’s necessary. Because there are companies who will “lose” to articles and to other pieces of content and won’t rank first for that type of query. Believe me on this. But that’s not all. We also narrow down the results to find the ORIGINAL company’s linkedin page too.
Why? Because the original page will show us some good information that is VERY useful to us.
And that is the “Employees” section pointed by the red arrow on the image below:
These contacts that Linkedin himself suggests, are useful for 2 reasons:
- 1. For finding real related people who we can run a search on Google afterwards
- 2. For giving us the awareness of how many people can be in the SAME position in THAT company. Because that way, we can pitch 2 or 3 managers for the same company sometimes.
But that’s not all, this is just the beginning actually.
There’s another way of getting what we want DIRECTLY by using a more strategic way.
Let’s assume for instance, that you want to pitch the/a Equity Strategist at Santander.
Then, all you have to do is to REMOVE the “/company/” search term and include the piece “Equity Strategist at Santander”.
Well, after changing things a bit your query will be like this:
inurl:”linkedin”+”SANTANDER”+”Equity Strategist at Santander”
OK. Now let’s see the results for this new query:
But what happens if we pick the first person, change the query a little and add something nice and pretty at the end, like a filetype:pdf parameter, for instance?
Let’s see our new query then:
Here’s the result:
HINT: A LOT of companies have a pattern for creating corporate email. Most of them usually uses [firstname.lastname]@company.com OR [lastname.firstname]@company.com. By knowing this, you can sometimes GUESS a person’s email just by checking their name/lastname on Linkedin. Also, if you find another email from the company you want to prospect, other than that email you wanted, just pay attention to the email pattern you found because that can confirm which pattern the company uses for employees.
You can see that we already got a few emails right? Especially the one we were looking for. But if you click on the result that says “[PDF] HOLD” you will get to download that file and you’ll see this image below in the 2nd page of that document:
Yes, my friend……
As a result, you got MUCH MORE than you requested.
This is just a simple demonstration of how powerful Google is and how “deep” it can go if you know how to use it. All these things I did above, can be done with almost any company in the world, as long as it is online. And as you can see, your mission will just be to build the right query, to find the right people and to then, find the right contact information you are looking for.
Yeah. Just pick a name and start.
You name it. And then you can do some “name guessing” or “job position guessing” to discover a few golden eggs that will give you what you want, just use your head and think a little.
For example, by searching for a certain name, you will be able to find:
- 1. Other people’s emails who are from the same company
- 2. Other people’s emails who are from another company
- 3. Other important people’s NAMES to help you give it another try
By the way, think outside the box. I will show you ways you can maximize this technique just so you understand what I meant here.
REMEMBER: YOU CAN GET OTHER GREAT CONTACTS WHEN SEARCHING FOR SOMEONE
My point here is that you can end up finding a HORDE of emails from high-level people by searching for another person. Don’t stay too focused on one single guy because there will be times you will find and download a document that will give you MUCH more “gold” than you can imagine. Yes, you may not find that piece of information you’re loooking for, but you’ll find 10 other emails that will make you happy. Internet is a mess. And you have to take some advantage out of it. Explore.
REMEMBER: TRY DIFFERENT FILE EXTENSIONS BECAUSE THEY USUALLY HAVE DIFFERENT DATA
Another important point is to CHANGE file extensions to get different results for the SAME COMPANY because every document has its particularities, and therefore, every extension may have a different set of information. For example, for PDFs it is easier to find with your queries: magazines, invitations, online newspapers, lawsuit documents and leaked documents from companies. A XLS file on the other hand, will mostly give you: reports, suppliers list and financial information. Every file extension has a particularity, so keep in mind to also take a peek on the other options as well.
REMEMBER: MANY PDF DOCUMENTS USE IMAGES TO SHOW IMPORTANT DATA
Why is that important? Because once in a while you’ll find some PDFs that won’t return results after you did a “CTRL + F to type a ‘@'”. But that’s because they have that data on the image itself, making impossible for Google to crawl it and read it for you. So the goal here is to remind you to NOT give up and leave after you have found a PDF document that doesn’t show any results when you use the “CTRL +F” command.
Because the images inside a PDF may have some contact information. That’s why, sometimes, reading it all will be worth it if you are truly trying to put your hands on a specific information.
OK! Now that we got some emails let’s pitch them with some templates!
#6. ONLINE PROSPECTING — THE EMAIL OVERALL TEMPLATE
Once you got what you wanted, it’s time to pitch. First of all, is very important to understand that you are doing a “cold email” in practice. This is just like a cold call, so don’t get mistaken here.
And sure, you can minimize things with a phone call conversation like I said before but it won’t change this fact. You can be very good at talking and very good at convincing people but the frame will still be the same.
Alright. Now that is clear let’s get to what’s interesting.
Look, after you got your hands on that email you wanted, you’ll need to send an email that has:
- A POWERFUL SUBJECT LINE — You must FORCE prospects to open your email. That’s rule #1. And that’s exactly the job of the subject line. The subject line must take into consideration the company’s environment, the market or the job position mindset. All to help you PREDICT the current state of mind of your final prospect. Take those points into consideration and you’ll build a more effective email.
- A SHORT BUT CAPTIVATING MESSAGE — You must be quick but at the same time, cause some IMPACT! And that’s the job of the body of your email. Because this part has one goal: to make the prospect open your company’s presentation.
- A PROFESSIONAL PRESENTATION OF YOUR COMPANY — Here’s where you should actually sell. My personal advice is to have a document with 20-30 pages where you focus on these points (in that order): 1º. Maximize your prospect’s problem; 2º. Tell right away what you are offering; 3º. Give a very BRIEF introduction about yourself (around 5-7 lines), give links to your website and to your testimonials page because this way you can boost his curiosity about your brand; 4º. Easily explain EACH service/product you have to offer following by some key Market statistics that will make the prospect realize he actually needs your company; 5º. Give your pricing table; 6º. Strike right away the stronger possible motive for people not buying, but with no more than 5-10 lines; 7º. Close with your contact information, a Google query on how people can find you or your brand online and a “THANK YOU” note. That’s all.
These are the 3 main points you MUST have in every single email you’ll send to a prospect. The last point I won’t show you in more detail because you need to be creative and explore your own ideas. That’s why I’m just showing you a good approach for how to present your business.
BUT regarding the email templates here we go!
I will start with some powerful subject lines then I’ll move to a few effective email templates.
SUBJECT LINES TEMPLATES
- OBJECTIVE — [NICHE] Project Presentation for Your Company
- CURIOUS — How Fast Does Your Company Solve This Problem?
- PRIDE — Are You A Real Leader? Then Read This.
- URGENCY — This Opportunity Will End In 24 Hours
- POWER — Here’s How You Can Extinguish [PROBLEM] Completely
- STATISTICS — What 75% of Companies in Your Niche Are Doing Today
These are just a few subject lines you can play with to boost your email open rates. Remember that you’re doing a cold email, so for most people, certain things are viewed as “click bait” or “spam”. But surely, if you take the right approach then this type of mindset will disappear and he WILL read your email and respond to you. All you need to remember is that is OK to use those techniques above, as long as it fits the rest of the email and your overall approach. And especially the situation frame.
Because you need to write your email thinking like this:
“Hey, that person behind my email doesn’t know me, doesn’t care about my company, won’t pay too much attention to what I wrote and he just wants to see what this email is about.”
This will give you IDEAS to be very objective and also interesting at the same time. So keep that mindset while you’re writing your email because this line of thought is usually the reality.
Well, now let’s see the final chapter.
Some email templates.
EMAIL TEMPLATE: OBJECTIVE EXPOSURE
I will be very quick.
My name is [YOUR NAME] and I’m an Entrepreneur.
I work with [YOUR NICHE] and I want to present to you something important.
If you are a leader, then I want to speak to you directly for a few seconds about your company.
My intention here is simple.
I want to know if your company has any interest in a [YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE]
I have been analyzing your company lately, and I want to help.
We can schedule a meeting in person on week days and I’ll clarify how can I help you in no more than an hour. And you’ll have all the necessary details to make a decision.
Read my presentation that’s attached to this email.
After you have read it, if there’s any interest on this, then just reply.
And we will talk.
PS: My website: [YOUR WEBSITE]
Thanks for your time,
EMAIL TEMPLATE: VERY POWERFUL AND OBJECTIVE
Nice meeting you [NAME],
Here’s why I’m sending you this email.
I have a special project for your company that completely solves [PROBLEM].
There is the need to read the document attached to this email to fully understand it, though.
You can schedule a 1-hour meeting for further explanation if you would like to know more about this. Just reply to this email and we will set the date for our conversation.
Thanks for your time,
EMAIL TEMPLATE: CURIOSITY
Nice meeting you [NAME],
I was only able to get your contact information, not your superior’s.
I have something to show to your boss that he’ll probably like to see it
Just say we completely solve the [SPECIFIC PROBLEM] your company experiences. We can help.
In the document attached to this email you’ll find every information you need.
Thanks for your time,
Well, this is quite enough for you to get started. You can create several templates and even company-oriented templates just to pitch a specific person. You just have to use your imagination, trust your gut and do some research and you’ll have powerful ways to pitch people.
And don’t worry about getting no responses at all at first because after all, you ARE doing a COLD EMAIL!
You must consider that the other person behind your email may delete your email because his boss just argued with him minutes before he opened your email, or the person from that emal address got fired, or they don’t have enough money to buy from you etc. Don’t get all sad because you’re getting slow results. Relax. The right people will contact you.
Just have this mindset when sending cold emails:
That’s important. Set an absurd goal and just keep coming. Just keep coming.
Also, watch out for not being labeled as spam because you have to pay attention to that too. You can read a great article from Hubspot about this here in this link.
And one final hint.
HINT: Remember that automated responses are possible when people are in vacations. This ALSO gives away other important people’s emails. Because some auto-responses will usually send you messages like “Hi, I’m on vacation up until 05/05/2016. For projects contact NAME at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +1 902329183049. Thank you”.
ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?
Those are my techniques to prospect companies, now tell me what’s yours. Who knows, maybe I might learn from you. Just leave it below if you like 🙂