Jill Konrath “Selling to Bigger Companies”

Do your voice mails to potential customers or clients start something like this?

Hi, this is Diane Windingland with Small Talk, Big Results.  I work with organizations . . .


OK, you don’t hear the “DELETE,” but according to sales expert, Jill Konrath, that’s what happens when you start to use words that explain your business.

If you want to connect with potential customers, you need to get rid of the “salesy part” of your calls, voice mail and emails.  You need to be vigilant in eliminating “delete triggers.”

Delete trigger:  “full-service provider” (Prospects probably already have what they think they need.)

Delete trigger:  “award-winning” (who cares?)

Delete trigger: “I want to meet with you to find out how you do business.” (Prospects want people who already know about their business.)

Delete trigger:  “meet at your earliest convenience” (Are you really that desperate?  Make it sound like you have a busy calendar, “I have time at 3:00 on Thursday.  Does that work for you?”)

Eliminating “delete triggers” was one of several actionable steps that Konrath shared yesterday in her talk “Selling to Bigger Companies” at a MainStreet Chamber Event in Minneapolis.

Other steps to take:

Get your foot in the door. Go for the mid-market or the branches/divisions of larger companies first.  Smaller customers, in addition to being your worst, least-profitable customers, do not give your company much credibility with the big dogs.  Even if you work with the smallest division of 3M, you can say you work with 3M–so much more impressive than listing “Joe’s Mom-and-Pop Shop” as a customer.

Never go in through purchasing or HR.  You will get the brush off: “You need to be on our approved vendor list.”  If you hear that, act like you didn’t hear it and just go on:  “OK, I’ve got some ideas about . . .”  If they want you, they will find a way to help you get on that “approved vendor list.”

Do your research. Get a name to contact.  Check out their website, LinkedIn and use services like Jigsaw (now Data.com), Zoominfo and Netprospex.  Read the Business Journal.

Konrath tied much of her advice to the acronym SNAP (One of her books is SNAP Selling):






Your phone message or email needs to be quickly understood.  60-100 words max!


Would meeting with you be worthwhile?  Your prospect is listening for ideas, information and insights.


Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) is “baloney” when selling to corporate.

“It’s the difference you make not how you are different.”

Do you know what they are measured on?  They have goals and objectives that you need to know so that you can focus on OUTCOMES, your value proposition.  Some examples:  new client acquisition, pipeline development, closing ratios, revenue.  Focus on the outcomes that they care about.  What difference do you make?  How can you help them improve.  Use “movement” words, such as increase, decrease and use phrases like, “As a result of hiring me, you will increase . . .”  You can use industry statistics to give you some hard numbers if you need them.


What are their priorities?

Look for “Trigger Events.

Internal Trigger Events:  mergers and acquisitions, labor reduction, Earnings (if up they have money to spend; if flat, they need better results; if down a little, they need new resources; if really down, don’t bother)

External Trigger Events:  the economy, new legislation, gas prices

An example phone call based on learning about a trigger event:

“Hi, Bob, Jill Konrath.  Say, I noticed in today’s Business Journal . . . I was recently working with some companies (make a statement that shows both alignment and expertise).  Let’s set up a time to talk.”

Note:  don’t mention your business name. If you are leaving a voice mail, state your phone number right after your name.

Tag-team your messages every 2-3 days (4 days max):  Call and say you will send an email.  Email and say you will call.  Send educational information (but keep the emails short!).  Plan on making 10-12 contacts. Don’t worry about being a pest.  People don’t remember what they delete.  Map out a campaign for your 10-12 messages so that you don’t have to think about it every time you do it.

According to Konrath, the best way to deliver content is short, 1-minute videos.  You could even record a friend interviewing you and parse it out into video segments.

During the Q&A, one audience member said she had read Konrath’s books, but “chickened out” in applying the information.  Konrath said, “You just need to work through it.” Konrath referred back to a story she told near the start of the presentation.  Konrath had literally fainted on a sales call early in her career, but picked herself up and started again, and again, learning what works and sharing it with others.

Have you tried Jill Konrath’s advice?  How has it worked for you?


About Diane Windingland
I speak for organizations that want their people to have better, more profitable conversations.

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