You’ve identified a company that is a sound fit for your product. You know what you’re going to say, and you’ve practiced saying it.
But you’re asking yourself… who am I going to talk to?
First, find the corporate number for your company. I usually achieve this by calling the 1-800 number on the back of a product the company produces, and asking for the corporate number. However this is simply one way of many.
Recognize that who you’re going to talk to, and whom you need to talk to are unlikely to be the same person, at least initially. There are a series of channels, or really “gates”, that all information flows through in a company. And you have the privilege and pleasure of starting at the very beginning.
Many inventors overlook the opportunity to befriend the operator – don’t. I always ask the operator for his or her name, in the event that I need to call back (likely). I need his or her help, and establishing a relationship will only help me get the information I need.
The operator probably won’t know what to do with you. Your call, after all, isn’t exactly the norm. That’s okay. The two departments you should reach out to are sales and marketing. They are by far the most likely to be receptive to you and your idea. In the event you are directed to the legal or product development departments, reroute yourself; you may inadvertently step on some toes in either of those divisions. The sales department is the easiest to reach, because their job demands they rely on answering and using the phone. Sales people love to talk. However, although the marketing department may be slightly more difficult to get a hold of, it is largely responsible for bringing a product to the marketplace and thus obviously relevant.
Because the operator is likely to be unsure where to direct you, use the opportunity to your advantage. Help them! For example, if you had designed a new hammer, ask, “Is there someone in marketing that works with hammers? Or someone in sales who oversees small tools?” She’ll know who those people are. Some companies receive so many of these calls that they might have a specific person that’s in charge of new products. This is especially true of specific industries, like the toy industry, or really large companies.
To be continued…