Best Way to Get Your Message To An Executive Desk?

In a recent Forbes.com interview Cory Klatt, CIO of SonoSite, Bothell, Washington provided some insight into effective ways to reach an Executive’s desk like his.  Sonosite is a world leader and specialist in mountable and portable ultrasound devices.  He was asked the following question:

“Being a CIO, I’m sure you get a lot of product pitches. What’s the most ridiculous pitch or product that’s come your way?”  Klatt’s answers held key suggestions and one surprising hint.  Here is his answer:

“In my area, we tend to get a lot of people that don’t do their homework. They don’t take a look at SonoSite or our industry. We’ll receive outrageous proposals for massive sand devices or hugely-distributed fault-tolerant systems, that just have no application to us. So, you know, it causes you to wonder what they’re really thinking behind their marketing tactics and the profiling.”

Klatt’s first sentence is not a surprise.  If you are not utilizing the myriad of web tools available and discussed on Fill the Funnel, you are destined to lose sales more frequently than you might have in the past.  Executives now expect you to do your “homework” before you ever engage.

What should you learn from your research?  Here are a few areas that I have found useful:

  1. Financial results and projections.
  2. Overall industry health.
  3. Major competitors and their performance related to your prospect/customer.
  4. Key executives within the company and down through the organization to the level you are focused on.

What are your suggestions for additional information that should be gathered prior to engaging with a new prospect?

When Klatt was asked what the key to getting in his door, he responded:

“…the key is how do you get relevance, how do you get seen and past the gatekeeper?  How do you get something that you think is really applicable to us at my table? And I will tell you that the key is still direct mail with a phone call. It’s still the most effective way. And if it’s relevant, it will stay on my desk.”

The red text above is my emphasis and was what surprised me.  Direct mail?  I have not heard anyone mention this as a winner for quite some time.  Email, social networking and video messaging are tossed around most often.  His response got me thinking of what I get in my email box vs. my postal mail box.  I am experience, postal mail “pieces” have dropped way off.  My email box is always over-flowing, creating the necessity of spam filters and two “catch-all”  email accounts on G-Mail and Hotmail that I use when I am replying to a web request.

Direct mail, with a well-done piece that reflects the fact that you have done your homework, might actually stand out from the crowd.  Note the last sentence in his response: “And if it’s relevant, it will stay on my desk.”

That is real estate that I want to have access to, how about you?

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