A Q&A session was held during a recent Fireside Chat with panelists David Young, Jill Gable and Ricardo Rivera where they share how to generate leads and make sales
- David Young is the founder and CEO of Drone Launch Academy, LLC, a commercial drone training company that has trained over 18,000 pilots.
- Jill Gable is an experienced National Account Manager at Madden Branded Goods with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry.
- Ricardo Rivera is the general manager at Dynamic Security of Florida, responsible for projects in North and South America.
To hear the full panel conversation, click here to listen to Headway by Catapult, a podcast where entrepreneurs and industry experts share practical tools and insights so that you can continue to generate ideas and innovate as you propel your startup forward into profitability, strategic marketing and success.
Following a panel conversation, the panelists took questions from attendees both in person and on the livestream.
HOW DO YOU FIND THE RIGHT PERSON TO PITCH TO AT A COMPANY?
Ricardo Rivera: Just ask, is this the right person to speak to? We do a lot of college campus security systems. At Florida Southern, it’s the former deputy chief of police. At Moravian College, it’s the IT guy. At another college, they might hire someone for security, so you never know. You just have to ask the questions, “Are you the person who makes decisions about the access control.” Maybe there’s some research that you’ve got to do. But it’s knowing your customer, knowing what you’re selling and being the expert in your field.
IS LINKEDIN EFFECTIVE TO GENERATE BUSINESS LEADS?
Jill Gable: I use LinkedIn a lot and it works for me. Personally, I don’t even have the paid version. I have the free version. So I don’t just use LinkedIn, I also use the internet. I get the information that I can from LinkedIn, which usually gives me enough so that when I do a cold call, I can get to the right person. In general, it kind of goes back to what he was asking, I know the title of the people who I’m looking to talk to, but if I need to drill down, I’m just looking for the person who purchases promotional products. And then I mean, you know, whether you’re the one who does that or not.
Ricardo Rivera: LinkedIn is fantastic. Anywhere where you’re going to get that kind of exposure, and you’re going to continue to offer content for free, that’s informative, and that helps people is going to solidify you as that expert. That’s going to get you the next job.
HOW DO YOU BUILD CREDIBILITY WITHOUT HAVING A PRODUCT FOR THEM TO VIEW WHEN YOU’RE ON A COLD CALL?
Jill Gable: When I’ve got to build credibility with somebody who doesn’t know who I am, then sometimes I will give them examples of what I’ve done in the past. I’m going to ask them what they’re looking for, like what have you liked about what I’ve done in the past? What have you not liked? So then that kind of gives me an indicator of the direction I need to take. But if they feel like they need to see the product in person, then you need to figure out how to do that. So, if that’s a wall you keep hitting before making a sale, then I would definitely do some discovery on that and figure out how to get the product in front of the person.
WHEN RELOCATING YOUR BUSINESS, HOW TO YOU PENETRATE THE NETWORK?
Ricardo Rivera: I walk into these places and establish myself as an expert without changing who I am. Being a one man show can work against you. People ask “how many trucks do you have?” but does it matter? I can get day laborers all over the place, it doesn’t matter how many trucks I have. Am I the expert who’s gonna get your job done? Yes.
WHAT IS YOUR GO TO RESOURCE FOR KNOWING YOUR CUSTOMER AND FIGURING OUT INFORMATION?
David Young: I found that people are actually pretty responsive if you just ask them. Once we built up an email list, it’s easier because we send one out to everybody saying, “Hey, we saw that you didn’t buy our course. Totally fine, tell us why.” You know, we did that the other day. We had 250 people give us very detailed responses as to why they didn’t buy. They really don’t have the time or the money right now. So that helps us to go, “Okay, well, if you don’t have the time, how can we structure this better to where people feel like, we can break it down into smaller chunks and give them a schedule?” Even before I had emails to people, I could just ask. I was active in Facebook groups looking around, or blogs or forums. So you go to the Facebook groups, and you see what people are complaining about. Everybody’s like, I don’t know how to get clients, I don’t know where all these jobs are. So you see what people complain a lot about, and, you know, you can kind of see what their problems are at least on like a more of a macro level. And that can inform your decision, if you’re talking to a similar type of person.
Jill Gable: So I’ll answer it from my business model. Before I research a person I’m researching the company. I want to know, do you have at least 300 employees? I mean, what’s the size of this company? And if it looks like it’s a good size, because to me, that means now all 300 need new polo shirts and polo shirts are about $20 to $30 a pop, so you can go ahead and do the math, they want more than one. So I’m looking for companies that are larger. And so once I know that, then I know they’re going after a customer base that’s larger, and that’s a good fit for me. So then I go after, who’s buying your promo? Back to that question, who’s buying the promotional products? And that’s the relationship I want.
WHAT ARE THE BEST PRACTICES FOR RETAINING CLIENTS AND CULTIVATING RELATIONSHIPS?
Ricardo Rivera: Jill said something earlier which was about honesty. I’m going to tell you what we did recently. The other day, we did a very simple project, but it was for a big customer. We made mistakes regarding security and their internet. So I walk in, and I go, “Patrick, please show me something else I can ruin for you. So that I could do a better job of failing.” And the guy looks at me goes, “No, no, no, no, you guys are great.” I’m like, “Dude, could we have gotten anything else wrong? The three things we touched, we did wrong.” And the guy’s like, “It’s alright.” Two hours later, again, brings me the set of plans and says, “Oh, I forgot to tell you. We’re doing a full build out. We need 14 doors, 28 cameras, a security system, and we want you to monitor our fire.” We were honest saying we just screwed up man. Like if you don’t trust us now, I’ll take my stuff and leave and you won’t owe me anything. But it’s owning up to what you did, finding a solution immediately, and finding a way to fix it. That’s what the customer wants. They want a working product, whatever your product is, they just want it to work. Right? That’s huge. This guy’s like my biggest fan now.
Jill Gable: The relationship side is my favorite part. It’s why I love what I do. My customers are some of my dearest friends. And so we just build a relationship. I make them look good to their boss, so therefore they like me. And I mean, I know who their kids are. I know that their kids play soccer and all those other things. There’s a personal side to it, which I enjoy. But also I am going to be their biggest advocate when it comes to an event that they have coming up and so come hell or high water, I’ll do whatever I need to for that customer to make sure that they’re satisfied. It goes back to my principle of do to others what you would want done to you. So how would you want someone to treat you? You’ve got to always ask that question. Would you want them to be interested in you as a person? Or do you want them just to, you know, take your order and go. People like people who they know. They want to do business with people who they trust, and they know. So that’s what I would tell you is just do the due diligence of building the relationship. You’re never gonna go wrong doing that.
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This blog was written by the team at Catapult Lakeland, an entrepreneur center in Lakeland Florida that exists to foster the growth of startups by providing education, resources, community and space.
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