August 16, 2013

Tips for Getting a First Meeting with an IT Director, Part One

I’m pretty spoiled, and I know it.  I mean I am an IT Director  for a company that builds IT infrastructure. That means there are hundreds of engineers whose job it is to make my life easier. That’s pretty good.

I do have a duty though to make sure that I share what I want with the rest of the company. I mean if something bothers me, or causes me pain, it probably causes my fellow IT peers pain as well. It’s not just engineering though, in fact I may suggest changes to Supply Chain, Support or today Sales.
What advice do I have for sales? Well simple. Like you, I get a lot of cold calls. The last time I counted it was over 25 a day. Since then my phone number has changed but it is still over a dozen each day. It’s enough that I screen my calls. Unless I recognize the number I don’t answer it. Well that’s not entirely true, I have on occasion picked up because I was expecting someone else, or I hit the wrong button, but it’s pretty rare.
That said though I do buy stuff, so if you are trying to sell me something and just want that first shot at a conversation, here is my advice. I’m guessing my fellow IT peers have their own advice and hopefully will share some of it.
1. Make sure your number isn’t blocked. If your number is blocked, I won’t even listen to the voice mail. I mean if you can’t trust me to have your number, that hardly seems like the start of a good relationship and sales is all about relationships.
2. If I’m already working with someone at your company, or already have a quote and just had dinner with the CEO of your company, and you call me to explain what you do, I’m going to think your sales process is pretty broken. If you can’t get that right, then I’m pretty sure you can’t help me with a complicated IT problem.
3. If I agree to a call, you really need to do two things. First send me a calendar invite so I don’t forget. I have a hard enough time making the meetings that are in my calendar and send me a reminder 10 minutes before. If we setup this call two weeks ago and it’s not in my daily agenda, there is almost no chance I will remember. Secondly, setup a conference bridge (or web conference). Since I rarely answer my phone, you calling me at a certain time isn’t going to yield the results you want.
4. If you are reaching out to me on social media, linkedin.com for example, and I’ve never met you, the stock invite of “I’d like to add you to my network on linkedin” is more than likely going to be deleted. If we just had a meeting, or we’ve known each other since first grade that’s’ probably OK, but if not, you need to explain a little about why we should connect. The simple fact that you sent me an invite already tells me you want to connect, I want to know why we should connect. And please have an updated bio and photo, not having that makes you look like spam.
 
5. If you call please be knowledgeable about what it is you are selling. I understand that IT solutions can be complicated and you will probably need to have an engineer on the line to answer technical questions, but if you can’t answer any question about what it is you sell, or why I would want it, I’m pretty sure I don’t need to know any more. I understand that many companies outsource their inside sales function and that’s OK but if you do, make sure the people doing the calling have been trained and not just reading the script.
I’ve actually got more tips, but they will have to wait. I have a conference call that my calendar just reminded me about to talk to a sales team about and need to dial in. 
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