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ScottThis is a guest post by Scott Miller, Principal at The Complex Sale, Inc., a sales consultancy focused on creating demand, winning opportunities, and growing accounts. Check out his blog on creating, winning, and growing sales.

Principals at my firm, The Complex Sale, Inc., carry a bag so we are responsible for bringing in our own new customers. Our firm provides tools and resources to help our clients accelerate revenue and meet their targets. You would think with such a simple and strategic value proposition that it would be easy for me to get first calls with my prospects. However, the buyers of my solution are like yours; too busy to take random solicitations and, quite frankly, there are a lot of people out there that can say they do the same thing.

So in an effort to get above the noise of traditional cold calling, I tried the targeted techniques. I would thoroughly research my prospects and articulate a tailored solution based upon their unique pains. I would write it all up in a letter and copy all the key executives, as Michael Boylan describes in his book The Power to Get In. I would put a lot of thought and research into that letter, thinking I only had one shot at getting the decision-makers’ attention. To follow up, I would dial the CEO first, knowing that I would be referred down to the VP of Sales to get sponsorship. Unfortunately, this process was very frustrating because I would get the same results as blindly picking up the phone and dialing a stranger.

Then I tried complementing my letter with a copy of our CEO and Founder’s book, Hope Is Not A Strategy – The 6 Keys to Winning the Complex Sale. The book highlights our sales methodology, so I was thinking this would be a good commercial for my stuff. To my excitement, I found the dials I made after sending the book resonated 10 times better than before I sent the book. My first thought was that the book worked, they are reading it and my message is getting through. However, when I asked the prospect if they liked the book I sent, without exception they told me they hadn’t read it.

The reason they took my call was because they recognized my name from the FedEx package I sent the book in. Many times, it would still be in their desk when I called. It was the one median the gatekeeper isn’t going to block and it’s the one thing I could reference in an email or voicemail that got above the noise of traditional solicitation. I told Rick Page, our Founder and CEO, about this new little phenomenon, and he called it the duck method.

When he was a sales manager at MSA, Rick had one rep who was a big duck hunter. He would mail his prospects a plastic duck to entice them to go hunting as a way to get in the door. He told me his rep usually never got to the point of inviting his prospect on the hunting trip because when he called to make the invitation, he was already well known by the prospect. The connection had already been made.

My advice is this: when prospecting, use every tool available. Use VITO letters, cold calls, Twitter, lunch invites, LinkedIn, webinars, and marketing slicks. But keep in mind that you are doing what everyone else is doing. To get above the noise, send your prospects something they will remember. Send them a duck.

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