Reaching out to companies to connect, pitch, and ultimately sell your idea has become more challenging than ever. This is because we’re all so very busy. Calls go unanswered, inboxes overflow with messages, and some companies have entirely abandoned traditional phone systems.
So, how can you make sure your message stands out? How can you grab the attention you need to sell your idea? How do you get people to respond to you?
Knowing how to get in touch with the right people at the right companies is a critical skill for entrepreneurs who are selling their ideas. If you want to license something you’ve created and earn royalties (which are a form of passive income), you must master this skill.
Breaking The (Old) Rules About Reaching Out
It’s time to toss out the old rulebook about reaching out to people to sell your idea. The way we connect has changed. With everyone juggling a million things, getting noticed requires a new game plan. Use these strategies to cut through the noise and ensure your messages reach the right people.
To Help You Sell Your Ideas, Here Are My 10 Rule-Breaking Reaching-Out Tips
Is there a best way to reach out? No.
In the early days, before the Internet existed, I relied on good old-fashioned mail to pitch companies about my new ideas for products. Sometimes I’d even opt for next-day or second-day delivery to give my inquiry that official touch. Surprisingly, almost everyone got back to me.
Fast forward to today, and we have a very powerful tool in our hands: LinkedIn. It’s a wonder for making connections. Almost everyone is on LinkedIn! I have written many articles with SmartPitch creator Benjamin Harrison about the power of using LinkedIn as a product developer. (We even wrote a book called Licensing Ideas using LinkedIn.) Your LinkedIn page is your sell sheet.
I aim to connect with people I believe can assist me. Today, LinkedIn is my go-to app because it’s user-friendly. Just bear in mind, it might take a few days, or perhaps even a tad longer, for people to respond. Patience is key.
If a connection doesn’t click, that’s when I dial up the corporate number and inquire about the person I’m after. I usually ask for someone in sales since they tend to be more accessible. Sometimes, I may have to leave a voicemail.
Email works too. Tools like Email Hunter are a real game-changer in this regard.
Is there a perfect time to reach out? No.
In the old days, I used to caution against reaching out to people about your ideas on Mondays or Fridays. Those days were packed with tasks and people were eager to rush out of the office.
However, things have shifted. Nowadays, any day is fair game. Why? Because everyone’s got their phone glued to their hand. Yes, even Saturdays and Sundays can be golden moments to connect through LinkedIn.
And you know what? Even a Friday before a holiday can be a great time. People are plugged into their devices, making it a breeze to get in touch.
What types of employees should you connect with to sell your idea?
Back when I started selling my ideas, product managers were my go-to person. They held the keys to launching new products, making them the perfect pitch target. While finding the right person is crucial, it’s not always a direct shot. When reaching out to sell your idea today, I recommend casting a wide net. Personally, I reach out to folks like the president, vice president, sales, marketing, new product development, and basically, anyone who might be the right fit.
Reaching the right person is still vital, but because it’s a trickier task nowadays, I start by connecting with anyone willing to listen. Once there’s a connection, I start the hunt for the perfect contact.
I’m not shy about asking for help either. If someone I’ve reached out to isn’t the right person, I politely request guidance or an introduction to the right person. This way, I end up reaching out to a diverse group of employees in each company, increasing my chances of finding the perfect match.
What should you say when you reach out to sell an idea?
Today, brevity is key. Your pitch should be concise, often just one or two paragraphs. Start with a clear statement like “I have a patent-pending product that does this.” Next, highlight the benefits. Explain how your idea can solve their problems.
Then, offer options for further information. You can ask, “May I send you a short one-minute video demonstrating what I’m describing?” Or, “May I send you a one-page sell sheet showing the product and its benefits to your customers?”
It’s important not to bombard them with questions about working with inventors or open innovation. Instead, focus on understanding their customers’ pain points and showing how your idea can alleviate them.
Remember, keep it succinct and to the point. Show them you understand their business by keeping it concise. Avoid making it appear like a mass email.
Always keep in mind that the person you’re reaching out to may not have experience evaluating ideas in your field. If your idea is unrelated to their current job, inquire about the appropriate department or contact person who can guide you further. Doing your homework shows that you’re serious and knowledgeable about their business. This is key to selling your idea!
The most important task when selling your idea? Following up.
Here’s the deal: Many folks won’t reply right away. That’s where the follow-up shines. And by follow-up, I mean doing it more than once. No, you’re not being a bother; you’re simply showing your persistence and the value of what you’re offering.
I usually give it about five days. Then, I drop a friendly message: “Hello… Just following up. I know you’re incredibly busy, thank you for your time.”
Prepare to follow up more than five or six times if necessary. Patience and politeness are your best friends in this situation. Remember that many people give up too soon. Continue your efforts.
After you get a response, avoid sending anything confidential just yet.
So, someone’s responded to your outreach, which is fantastic. This shows that your approach is working. But remember, this process takes time. Before you proceed, do your homework on the person who has shown interest. This way, when they ask for more details, you’ll be at ease providing them.
Avoid sending anything confidential at this stage. Asking for a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) too early might be premature. If they do request confidential details, be sure to ask for an NDA. This way, you’ll safeguard your invention from any inadvertent disclosures.
You might find yourself needing to sign their NDA. This is common practice. Usually, I’ll share a concise one-page sell sheet or a video. Now, it’s a waiting game. They’ll need time to review and involve the right people for a response.
Anticipate some common questions:
- Do you have a patent for this?
- Have you developed a prototype?
- Have you presented this to anyone else?
- What are you seeking?
Ensure you have someone on hand who can help you answer these questions accurately. If you’re feeling unsure, we offer a coaching program tailored to assist you in handling these inquiries effectively.
Remember, don’t skip steps or jump ahead. It’s important to follow the sequence. This demonstrates that you know what you’re doing, and it keeps the conversation flowing smoothly. Going out of sequence can often lead to confusion and may halt progress. Stick to the plan.
Act with urgency!
In the race to catch attention, waiting can be a roadblock. Act swiftly. Engage with the person you’re targeting by commenting on their posts. Ask an intriguing question that sparks interest. You can even share their post for added visibility. It’s a simple yet effective way to get noticed.
Additionally, seek out creative minds within the company. Look for individuals with titles that suggest an innovative streak. I’ve employed this approach with success. Connecting with someone who shares a common interest is a natural way to initiate a relationship. It’s an effortless way to kickstart meaningful connections.
Avoid reaching out to many companies at once.
Reaching out to a multitude of companies all at once can backfire. Take it easy and connect more thoughtfully. Start by approaching just one or two companies at a time. This allows you to absorb feedback and make any necessary adjustments to your approach. Remember, quality interactions beat quantity. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin by reaching out to too many companies all at once.
Size isn’t the deciding factor anymore.
In the past, finding midsize companies used to be the top priority. But today, size isn’t the key factor anymore. What truly matters is the company’s culture. Whether it’s a large corporation with an innovative spirit or a small, dynamic outfit, it’s about finding the right fit.
When reaching out to sell an idea, consider a variety of companies. Ensure that you connect with multiple people within each organization. Keep your pitch concise, addressing their pain points and business needs. And always have compelling marketing materials on hand to leave a positive impression.
Remember, it’s not about the size of the company so much as the culture and the connections you make. Not all companies work with outside innovators!