If you’re about to take the plunge and make the call you’ve been dreading, read the following tips and advice from Victor Hawkins of VJ Designs. Hawkins has been in the field of private product design and development since the early 1990s, and has made more than a few of these calls himself. Here is his perspective on the game.
Before You Call
Do your research. How large is the company, really? What are they all about? Who are the president and vice president?
When you have the operator or secretary on the phone, ask, “Who is the best person to send some information to?” Later, call back and ask specifically for that person. It will appear as if you already know and are familiar with them.
“I’m…” Don’t introduce yourself as an inventor; it’s rarely worked for me. If I introduce myself as the owner of a product design studio, I am taken much more seriously. They perceive that title to be more credible.
Be upbeat. Open by demonstrating your knowledge of the company. They immediately know that I’ve done my homework and have chosen to speak with them for a specific reason. It shows respect.
Make a connection. Sending off my sales sheet without first speaking to my contact has never worked for me. Your information is even more likely to be lost in shuffle if you don’t reach out.
After the Call
Don’t date exclusively. I generally send information about a new idea to four companies at a time. Waiting around for a single company to get back to you is a waste of time and will end in frustration. When you receive feedback from one of those four companies, you can input it into your idea before sending it out to other companies.
Keep the line of communication open. Rejection sucks. But try to learn why your idea wasn’t the best fit. What could be changed? Some companies won’t offer you a reason, but others will.
Don’t fall in love with a single idea. You can never predict that it will be “the one”. It’s much safer and healthier to keep your emotions out of the process as much as possible, but not your passion!
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