(Editor's note: By inserting the image of this upstanding gentleman, my paragraph spacing got tasered. It's a bug with the software. It's a good read but the paragraphs are huddled together like plane crash victims waiting for Search and Rescue).
The dreaded Sales Technique.
If you're in your in your thirties or beyond, you've probably been exposed to books and training whose purpose was to impart the wisdom of various sales techniques. Essentially they are methods of manipulation in an attempt to trap or get a prospective buyer in a position they may otherwise resist. The example below is parody but this is what buyers typically associate with strangers trying to solicit their business...even in the year 2008.
Salesperson: Hey..listen, just so happens, I'll be in your neck of the woods Tuesday and Thursday.
Prospective Buyer: Who is this?
Prospective Buyer: What are you trying to sell me? Who is this?
Salesperson: I ABSOLUTELY hear you on that!...are mornings better for you?
The marketing part of any sales position is definitely a contact sport. If things eventually align correctly, you don't want to be calling strangers asking them for their time and money. They hate it, you hate it. But in the short run, you may not be so lucky. You will likely have to reach out to someone who isn't expecting your call or correspondence. In almost all cases, they will be engaged in something else and you will be an interruption. Put yourself in their shoes. Don't be an idiot.
Be concise. Give them an out. If they give you the floor, don't talk about how freakin' incredible your products are. Don't ask them "what keeps you up at night". Telemarketers keep them up at night. That milk carton's expiration date of a phrase is six weeks old. Buyers are sick of it.
Ask them if they have any business problems that, potentially, your company can solve. Most important, work on the rapport part without being a phony. It isn't easy and if you're incapable of the nascent building blocks of building rapport with a complete stranger, you might be in the wrong business. (Doesn't make you a bad person. Very few can pull this off. It's very difficult.)
Bottom line: There are plenty of companies that can solve their business problem, several might already be on their rolodex.
But if you've gotten this far, you're in the game.
Again, if given the opportunity, try to have a conversation. The rest (e.g. next actions, their buying process, drilling down a little, etc..) should come as a natural part of the conversation and not be forced.
Pretend you are they, chaos is in full session and, for whatever reason, you decided to pick up the ringing telephone.