082508 Main Gates

In which we consider approach prospects from side entrances rather than the main gates. My daughter and twenty three of her well behaved teenaged friends accompanied by two normal-looking middle-aged, female adult chaperones approached the main entrance of a well known, high end department store.

As they approached the door, the door man said, crisply, without apology, “I’m sorry, madam, we don’t accommodate groups here.”  After some discussion, including brief, fruitless conversation with the doorman’s supervisor about breaking the larger group into smaller groups for entry, the doorman stood his ground and deflected the friends to visit another store and discuss next steps.

While the larger group was pow-wowing, a small group of the friends broke off and slipped unobtrusively into the well known, high end department store through a different door, welcomed warmly by that door man. Observing this entry, the  remaining large group split into sub groups that entered the store through multiple different doors, welcomed by smiling doormen, to meet in the middle of the store at a predetermined location.

From this adventure we learn: While the main gate to the castle may be well guarded, secondary entrances may be less well guarded, even welcoming to a traveler who seeks entry.  Further, that multiple simultaneous entries through different gates increases concentration of forces in the interior.

In other words, instead of directly approaching The Well Guarded Big Cheeses (TWGBC) who run your prospects as your first approach, invest time to learn about the companies and meet “users” and “critical influencers” who can share their knowledge of their companies, help you refine your approaches, and even support your approach to TWGBCs through secondary doors.

The more specific your knowledge of the company’s operations, and the more specific and applicable the ideas you share with TWGBC, the more likely you are to gain entrance.

Compare:

“We’ve worked with a number of companies like yours to introduce new products.”

with

“I understand you’re planning to roll out the P-36B at the end of the first quarter. From our work with similar roll outs, I have some specific ideas that will help you reduce your time to revenue after launch by as much as 45 days.”

If you make multiple simultaneous entries, for example, establishing connections with marketing, sales, manufacturing, and finance, all of whom have a hand in the new product launch, you can all “meet in the middle.”  Conversation with any one of the various departments enhances conversations with the others, builds momentum, and helps us avoid being “trapped” by a single door man or department.

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