The dilemma is common, but the fear it inspires is overwhelming. You’ve created a product and you want a company to see it. Easier said than done? It doesn’t have to be. You may feel more comfortable approaching a corporation writing an email or letter – stop yourself. The simple truth is, if you really want to be heard, if you really want to be recognized, you have to make personal contact. You have to make the dreaded cold-call.
What I need you to know is that I still get nervous when I call someone I don’t know. It just is what it is. But I’ve learned that I can lessen that fear, that I can take away of some of that anxiety. These are some of the ways I make the process easier for myself.
Remove the unknown. It’s a fact of human nature. People inherently fear what they do not know. You need to eliminate as much uncertainty and doubt as possible before you make a call. If you’re not completely clear or sure about your pitch, the benefits of your product, or the individual you’re going to be talking to, your anxiety will increase. Confidence is difficult to convey when you’re anxious or uncertain. Although I sometimes jokingly propose, “fake it till you make it”, this is one situation where bluffing is not the answer.
How can remove the uncertainty of the situation? Assure that you’ve chosen an appropriate company to approach. Did you identify this company after having studied the marketplace? Do you think it is a good fit for your product? Will the company be able to see and more importantly, understand the benefit of your idea? Essentially, does the company need what you have. If you can answer these questions with solid information or reasons, then a degree of uncertainty has been lessened.
Secondly, really think about what you’re going to say. I’ve used the same opening lines for the past twenty-five years. The very same ones! They’re pretty simple.
“Hi, my name is Stephen Key. I am a product developer. I would like to submit some of my ideas to your company. Who do I need to speak with?”
Note that I didn’t use the word “inventor”. The word evokes images of tinkering around in the garage or equally foreign scenarios. Inventors aren’t part of the corporate world; product developers are.
It’s not so much what you say, exactly, but how you say it. Practice the lines until they feel comfortable and natural. Practice them on your friends and in front of the mirror – know them. If you’re sure about what you’re going to say, then your confidence will consequently rise.
To be continued…