Two examples of how meeting planning paid off

I’m traveling this week visiting a very major client and initiating the sales process with future clients (a.k.a. “prospects”). The act of simple meeting preparation helped me enormously. Twice.

Situation #1: Meeting on Wednesday with a potentially large client after several phone calls with an executive and his team.

What I did: In looking at the meeting invite and email correspondence, I noticed I didn’t have an address handy, so I went to the company website to map out their location. I noticed they happened to have three offices in the DC area, but I had been to their main office and was pretty sure that’s where we would be meeting. Then something in my head said – “You know what? You should confirm this anyway with Mr. Executive’s Assistant…”

So I shot her a quick email to confirm the meeting date and time, and pasted the address from the company website into the message:

Screenshot 2014-02-25 20.21.09

Her reply:

Screenshot 2014-02-25 20.21.26

Well… that would have sucked if I went to the wrong address with our company CEO…

Situation #2: A day and a half of meetings with a very big client.

What happened: The business manager we’re working with is super happy so far, and is helping with introductions to other executives across the company. He sent a list ahead of time of the four people we’d have meetings with during the visit. I took a few minutes to find their LinkedIn profiles and search them on their company website.

For one of the executives, I found a blog post he coauthored two years ago with another executive that was not on our meeting list. Once we got settled in a conference room, we reviewed the meetings and agenda for the next two days with our champion. I asked him about the person that I saw as a coauthor. “Hmmm…. you know, we should probably try to see her too.” Then three times during the day, our champion mentioned her name.

Coincidence? Maybe. Though probably not. A few minutes of research led to introduction to another executive in the company.

Hooray! I got a D!

Last night, I sent out an cold “InMail” yesterday to a “D” contact and got a reply. My first reply from a D. We’re setting up a time next week to talk. (Reminder: “Ds” are cold contacts – people I’ve never met before – in my classification system for customer development contacts.) 

Sidenote: That’s the second reply to an InMail (out of three) this week. The first reply was from a “C” contact. with whom I’ve yet coordinate a time . He and I played some phone tag this week. The third is also to a “C” contact, from whom I haven’t heard back yet.

How did I find this person?

I was on the LinkedIn profile for a person I’d met previously at a conference (the other “C” contact in InMailed yesterday). After sending that “C” contact an InMail, I looked at the “People Similar to ___” box on LinkedIn and saw this person’s profile. It was a good match in terms of job title and role, so I crafted an InMail to ask her help:

Hi ___ – I saw that we’re both know ____ at ____, and in reading your profile, I thought you’d be a good person to ask about a research project I’ve been asked to do for a mortgage tech startup.

Specifically, I need to learn a few key points in the underwriting process and thought you’d be a really good person to ask. We’re trying to get some visibility about consumer expectations once a loan reaches the underwriting stage.

Do you have 15-20 minutes over the next two weeks? I can’t offer much except good karma and a Starbucks next time we’re in the same place. :-)

Many thanks for reading this far – I’d really appreciate a few minutes of your time and expertise!

-Scott Sambucci
(415) 596 0804

Other factors that influenced why I chose to send this contact a blind request

  • The person had 500+ connections, indicating an active use of LinkedIn.
  • The person had deep experience in the industry – several companies and roles in this area I care about for this project.
  • The contact’s photo was a very happy photo – one that indicated to me that they’d be friendly.
  • We had a contact in common that I could reference in my InMail. (LinkedIn will suggest this, and other tips, when crafting InMails.)

More Customer Development – My dog food tastes better today.

Had a very good call block yesterday. My goal was 12 calls, and I hammered out 16. :-) An early trend emerging that is unsurprising and important. More on this below…

I’ve started a process to track my call outcomes. I don’t know how long I’ll stick with this – just a way for me to measure results and sources.

  • Type 1: Real Customer Development conversions. These are generally appointments established from previous calls/emails.
  • Type 2: Outbound calls during which I talk to the prospect, and we agree to set a definitive time to have a true Customer Development conversation (i.e. Type 1 call is now set).
  • Type 3: Outbound calls that go to voicemail, followed by a personalized email to the person, AND the person returns my call/email.
  • Type 4: Outbound calls that go to voicemail, followed by a personalized email to the person, but no return call/email received yet.
  • Leftovers: Call backs and emails from previous days’ calling efforts to scrape up more appointments.

Classification_Poster_websiteSeparately, I’m rating contacts:

  • “A” Contacts: Personal and professional friends. People I’ve known and worked with in the past; people who I know will take my call and make time for me.
  • “B” Contacts: People I’ve met in person or have had an extended phone conversation or two, and with whom I’ve actively kept in touch; also includes introductions from “A” contacts.
  • “C” Contacts: People I’ve met once or twice (i.e. at a conference, as part of a group presentation) and who may not remember me even though I remember them.
  • “D” Contacts: People who don’t know me at all.

Yesterday’s results:

  • Type 1: Three (3) of these. Two were appointments set last week. One was the result of an outbound call earlier in the day, and the subject made time for me right away. All three of these were “A” contacts. The one that made time for me in the afternoon without an appointment was heading to Paris last night, yet she still took 30+ minutes to talk to me, then gave me four more people to call, and invited me to host meetings during an upcoming conference at her company’s reserved meeting area.
  • Type 2: Six (6) of these. I reached these people mostly through “voicemail then email.” 5/6 are “A” Contacts. One was a “C” contact that I emailed via LinkedIn’s InMail function because he’s switched companies since we last spoke and I did not have his current contact info.
  • Type 3: Three (3) of these. All three are “B” contacts. I now have two appointments set for this week, and was told by the third’s assistant – “You should call him at 8AM on Thursday. His schedule is clear at that time and he’s always in the office early.”
  • Type 4: Two (2) of these. One A and one C contact.
  • Leftovers: Two (2) follow up emails from voicemails I left on Monday and I hadn’t sent the follow up email on Monday right away.

See the trend? Great customer development calls and pingbacks with my “A” contacts. Less so with the B, C, and Ds.

More calls scheduled for Thursday, so another post soon on how that goes.

Lessons learned so far:

  • Use the network where you can.
  • Soon the network will run dry, so get introductions in every call with “A” contacts.
  • Figure out the script for the “C” and “D” contacts. These represent the “rest of the market” once we’re ready to sell an early version of our solution.
  • There are more lessons to learn. It’s only Day 2 of this project.