Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Value Proposition Part 2

At this point, you have written out your value proposition, outlined a “target” market or company profile and you have identified specific companies you are interested in. I’m assuming your list has more than 10 entries when you start. Remember that while you will need something like a hundred to guarantee success, you can start with as few as one.
Your next step is to choose one to start with. Don’t over think your choice, you have done your primary screening, so any one of them will work. In order to make this effective, your research really starts now. Let’s assume you got your info from D&B (Dunn & Bradstreet), it will probably include the name of one contact at least, research the individual, then research the company.
  • On the company side try to create a mini “org chart”.
  • Who is the CEO, CTO, CFO, COO, etc? How long have they been at the company?
  • What has been the company’s history?
  • Is the company profitable?
  • How many locations?
  • Where would you fit?
  • What does the company do?
  • Everything else you can think of.
Your goal is to identify an individual that has hiring authority, budget authority and is likely to benefit from the services you provide. When in doubt, move up. If you are technical project manager and you can’t find an identified CTO, look for the COO. If they don’t exist, then it’s the CEO.

Dig out as much info as possible on each. Your initial letter will be stock, but when you call, you will need to know who to ask for and as much as possible about them and their company.

When you call, you will be asking for an appointment, but you need to be prepared for anything. Write out your questions and have them in front of you. Script your open, literally. Write it out word for word and read it when you call. Rehearse it before hand so it doesn’t sound like you’re reading it, but read it.

Your expectations need to be appropriate for the process as well. Unfortunately, most of the time, you’ll get some variation of “don’t call me, I’ll call you.” If they send you to HR, it’s the same thing. You may want to follow up with HR, but that will be the exception. Your goal is having a personal conversation with someone with both budget and hiring authority, anything else and move to the next one.

Part of the reason for starting with 10 or so companies is because of how often “No” will be your outcome and you’ll need to have that next one to focus on.

What will happen at this point is you will genuinely be in a numbers game. If you can do this 100 times, then you will get at least one offer. You could get as many as 10. You should get 30 to 40 interviews.

A possible script might go:
Hi Bob, my name is Steve Paul, I sent you a note a week ago introducing myself. I build extremely resilient, high performance IT teams. The reason for my call is to follow up on the letter and ask you if there is a time we could talk about how I might be able to help. Is now a good time or should we set an appointment for later?”
The reason for having your questions written out now is that the success of the interview will be directly related to the quality of your questions and if “Bob” says, “Actually I do have a couple minutes, what are you thinking?” you need to be able to ask a good question. Something that relates to your value prop. In the example above, I would start asking about how complicated there IT needs are. I would start by citing something I had found through my research, then turn it into a question. “I see you have 13 offices in Western Washington, how many IT people does it currently take to support them?   How effective do you think the team is?"

The point is to be ready. Really ready. This is a way to create opportunity, and when that opportunity is developed, turning it into something that you can grow with over time.

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