Generally we all would like to be involved in projects as early as possible (at Protel we specialise in this.) However, the earlier you are aware the more sensitive the data can become. This is especially true in process sectors such as pharmaceutical, food and drink. In this article we’re going to look at some reasons why a project might be sensitive, following on with some ideas about how to approach them.
Below are a few reasons why companies might want to keep their project information out of the public domain:
At Protel we use 3 different sensitivity levels; high, low and none to categorise capex project schemes. These projects are available to subscribers on our project search engine, MyProtel.
We’ll use these three categories of project sensitivity as a framework to introduce some sales strategy ideas.
One of the key bits of advice when dealing with a highly sensitive project is, don’t mention the specific project! Openly discussing the new venture can put your target on the back foot. It can move the focus of the conversation from your company and equipment to one about where your information came from. This is the last thing you need when trying to introduce yourself.
The project doesn’t need to be the focus of the call. With a highly sensitive project often you just need to get your foot in the door. One great way to do this is to ask how to be put on the companies approved supplier list. This is much less threatening and an excellent way to get your target company thinking about your products. As the project moves further down the line you can follow up with more specific sales calls.
Alternatively, they may have some smaller works you could help with while they concentrate on the new major project. Introducing your products at this time can be a great and unthreatening way in.
Think about alternative routes you can take to get involved in the project. Perhaps you could speak to members of the procurement team rather than the project leader. It is vital to really do your homework on the company you are approaching.
Check back on your previous projects. You may have a contact who is involved in this new development. Using your business relationships can be a great way to get your foot in the door without being overly direct.
Hosting a technical seminar can be another excellent way to get your solutions in front of the right people. You can introduce useful products without being obvious you know about their new plans. This can be a far less direct way to show off your company.
We can view this as a ‘medium’ level of sensitivity. You still need to be careful with your approach but can be a bit more direct. It is generally more acceptable to mention the specific project. However, make sure to stay vague about how you found out about it – do not disclose your source. Perhaps you overheard about it at an exhibition or through a member of your sales team.
At this stage your target is probably starting to think about equipment suppliers. More people within the company will have knowledge about the project which opens further avenues to discuss your products. This could be a good time to follow up on an initial introductory phone call or email. Remind your target why your products are best-in-class and why the client should use your equipment.
With no sensitivity you can be much more direct with your approach. The project information is in the public domain. You can mention your public domain source, for example on the company website, in a magazine interview or press release. People in the business will know about the project so you can discuss it in your initial call.
Your target is likely actively looking for equipment at this point, depending on the sector. They have passed the problems of funding and planning applications and now need to fit out their new facility. Be direct with your approach. Make it obvious that your products will be perfect for their new project.
In general, you want to be involved in a project as early as possible. For some it’s important to get your foot in the door when project information is still highly secretive. You may come across a ‘no names policy’. However, Protel subscribers have access to all the relevant decision makers contact details.
Be persistent. It can take time to get through to busy project leaders – it can take up 5-8 contact attempts on average. Asking how to be put on the approved suppliers list or speaking to the procurement team can be another great way in.
Use sensitivity levels to help structure your pitch. When highly sensitive don’t let them know you know about the project. Your aim is to get them thinking about your products. When they are ready to purchase your company name is already at the top of their list. As project sensitivity decreases you can make a more direct approach. Rather than an introduction to your products you can show how they will benefit the specific project.
Finally, don’t let a highly sensitive project put you off. Do your research and really think about the best way to get your foot in the door and tailor your approach to the prospect as much as possible.