Fall is now upon us. The weather is cooler and my favorite Holiday, Halloween, is just around the corner. So let’s talk about something really scary! Cold calls. The mere thought of making one sends shivers down some inventRight (iR) student spines. That’s understandable.
Are we not essentially telling a licensee that we want them to take all the financial risk, be responsible for all manufacturing, marketing and distribution and that we simply want to kick back and collect royalty checks? Those are some very bold demands that would make any novice turn white as a ghost! This is likely the source of the fear we have before making the cold call. The fear of the unknown, the fear of not knowing what to say, the fear of feeling not worthy of a big company’s time, the fear they are going to bite like a bloodthirsty vampire.
What if there was an easier way?
I’m here to tell you there most certainly is. Before we dig six feet down, I want to acknowledge there is more than one way to skin a Halloween cat. Many of my fellow iR coaches actually prefer cold calling and are incredibly successful at it! I’m looking at you Amy Jo Brogan and David Fedewa. Their techniques are fantastic and they excel at getting in via cold calls.
In my experience, there are three types of iR students: Those who love to call, those who refuse to call, and those who simply don’t have the time to call. I fall in the third category. Stretched thin between multiple jobs, I simply cannot dedicate the time needed to make dozens of calls a day and the inevitably needed follow up calls. If you are like me, the strategy below is for you.
Before I get started, check out the short instructional video I made on this topic recently:The instructions below supplement that video.
First: Are you on LinkedIn? If you aren’t, you are doing yourself a big disservice and digging yourself into a deep grave. Sign up immediately. It’s free!
After you have identified the companies you want to pitch your product to — your “Hit List” — visit that company’s LinkedIn page. The page will indicate “X # of employees on LinkedIn” near the top. Now, click that link. You will immediately be given a list of every person who works at that company, along with their title. Scroll through that list of employees. Typically, we are looking for a brand, marketing, sales, or product manager. Heads of product development can be a great option too. After you read an employee’s bio, you will have a better sense if he or she is worthy of pitching your product to.
I recommend that you send at least four people at every company a message requesting to send your sell sheet. Why so many? Statistically, we know that you will never hear back from some of the people you message. Most people are extremely busy and working their fingers to the bones, nothing more than overly caffeinated walking zombies at work. So can we be sure everyone we message is checking LinkedIn and their email? No. To combat this, we send messages to at least four employees at a company with the hope that at least one person responds back with permission to send our sell sheet.
There are several ways to send a free message on LinkedIn.
- “Connect” with the employee. If and when they accept the “connection” you will now be able to communicate back and forth for free.
- Every time you ask to “connect” with someone, LinkedIn supplies copy for a generic message that reads, “Hi NAME, I’d like to join your network.” Luckily, LinkedIn allows you to edit this message. Add your own message here for free!
- Join many LinkedIn groups. If you are in the same group as the LinkedIn member you wish to message, the message will be free.
Using one of the above methods, send a simple message. In fact you can copy, paste, and edit this one:
“Good Morning Mr. Smith
My name is Ryan Diez. I am a product developer from Los Angeles, CA. I have developed a very simple yet unique product which I believe would fit wonderfully in your line. I have a sell sheet which will quickly highlight the benefits of my product to you and your company. Please advise whom I may send more info to, perhaps that person is you?
Thank you for your time”
To increase your odds even further, email each of these contacts the same message too. We want to be a persistent pest. The bat that just won’t fly away! Simply copy and paste the same message, but this time into an email. We will discuss how to identify an email address in a future post.
Only 3 things can happen at this point:
- The contact ignores you and you never hear from them.
- The contact responds that the company doesn’t take outside or unsolicited ideas. Run like a horde of zombies is chasing you! This company isn’t inventor friendly!
- The contact responds and tells you to send over your sell sheet.
If the contact directs you to send a sell sheet, simply attach your PDF Sell Sheet to the email provided and state:
Thank you for the quick response. Please see attached sell sheet. I look forward to your review
Please resist the urge to sell further. Do not add anything else. Let your beautiful sell sheet do the talking and selling!
**If multiple representatives of a company give you permission to send a sell sheet, then send to both of them. Please advise both however that somebody from the company has already reached out and that for full disclosure, you did in fact send it to them first. We never want the contacts to think we are playing one off the other. If they get that notion they just might chop your head off! Be up front and let them know. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Perhaps one will see your vision while the other will not**
Only 3 things can happen at this point:
- The contact ignores you and you never hear from him or her again.
- The contact tells you it’s a great product, but not a right fit for their company. This is a rejection and most common.
- The contact inquiries about some aspect of the product, indicating initial interest.
Once initial interest has been established, simply respond with a short answer to their question and suggest you provide further details on a brief phone call later in that week. If the contact agrees and schedules a phone call, get a hold of your iR coach immediately.
Congratulations, you just received initial interest. There is absolutely nothing to fear. If you have made it to this point we know the licensee, at a minimum, likes the product. Perhaps they love it! The bottom line is we have just eliminated the unknown and did so all without ever having to pick up the telephone.
My students and I have used this technique hundreds of times. The success rate is outstanding. We have reached top level executives at major corporations. My product the Woof Washer 360 was the result of a LinkedIn message. My students Garth P. and Stephen B. both recently licensed their products. Their success began with a LinkedIn message too.
Licensees aren’t monsters. In my experience, the vast majority of people I message are very pleasant. Still if you have any reservations, please give this method a shot – or a stab. It may be Halloween time, but there is nothing scary about doing it my way!
I go big for Halloween! Here are some of my decorations.