This is a guide for service based businesses on how to cold call Fortune 500 companies and pitch them an innovative idea. Step by step guide on how we booked meetings with 6 Fortune 500 companies in 6 days.
Few weeks ago we hired a cold caller and the strategy has been working so well that we had to share it.
This is a cold calling strategy that works.
Cold email works, but in some situations cold calling works better.
What we've been doing is having our cold caller reach out to the enterprise for mobile app development projects.
And by enterprise I mean Fortune 500 companies. The biggest companies in the world.
In the first six days of our cold caller doing this we were able to score meetings with a bunch of well-known companies. I’m sure you recognize some of these logos.
This wasn’t hard. Why it wasn’t, remains an unknown to me. But I think the reason falls somewhere between nobody cold calling at all or nobody cold calling correctly.
Either way, in this post I'm going to lay it all out. I'll show you the exact strategy we're using to make these calls and book these meetings.
But first, let me preface this with a very important question you need to ask yourself before you pursue enterprise clients.
Is your company ready to go from small businesses or whatever your current target is to very large companies, Fortune 500, Fortune 5000?
When do you know that you're ready to move to that next level?
Answer: Have a solid business already.
Good things about enterprise - they've got really big ticket items, it's a chance to make a worldwide impact especially if you're doing anything like marketing.
The downside of the enterprise are very long sales cycles. Meaning it might take six, seven months or two to three times longer to close an enterprise deal as it would with a startup or even with a small to medium business.
The other downside is there's gonna be a lot more stakeholders. What that basically means is you’ll have a meeting after meeting. At the end, it will come down to a group of people that decide for enterprise companies or it'll go up even higher to the director level. Basically, to whoever has the budget to approve it. It takes forever to do this.
Make sure your business is in a good enough spot where you don't need enterprise clients to survive!
If you're not in that good of a spot yet, go out and get some SMB clients. Get some startups that are gonna convert on the first or second meeting.
Now, let’s jump into how to actually do it.
1. Pick a Fortune 500 company (based on a case study you can replicate)
Just go down the list and pick a good company.
The way that I recommend our clients do this is look at your past case studies and see what sort of case studies you have that could be replicated.
Here is an example of what I do at my company when going after bigger enterprise clients.
We only focus on one vertical. We only focus on professional services, specifically mobile app development, UX, UI, design, branding and some advertising firms.
So all of our targets are in the advertising marketing or the software category. You can do the same.
One of our clients, Dom & Tom, built this app called OUBound for the University of Oklahoma.
And University of Oklahoma let us do a case study on it. So we took that case study and we emailed it out to a bunch of other universities and based on those emails we were able to get meetings with OSU, Yale and a few other schools. Just based on that initial cold email test we validated the replicability of our project. Hence, making it ready for enterprise companies.
We have the case studies to back our claims up. We've got case studies from clients in similar niches to them. Companies that we've succeeded with in the past with those same type of projects. So that's what you need to have.
Look at your past clients and keep an eye on one.
What are the most successful type of clients you worked with in the past? Which ones were happiest and had saw the most results? Which company did you make the most profit from? Not most money, most profit. Which were easiest to deal with? Take that type of company.
Enterprise companies always have an eye on what the up-and-coming companies are doing. So don’t think just because your case study is based on a startup or a SMB it won’t work.
Smaller companies are innovating in ways that huge enterprise companies aren’t.
I recommend picking only one specific case study. Something where you dominated, something where you have amazing results and pitching only that case study to companies that very well match that case study.
2. Research the company and come up with an innovative idea
Researching the company and being innovative. If you run a digital agency, startup or a service based business this is where you might probably stumble.
No! You can’t pitch SEO, copywriting or web design to Fortune 500 like you do with any other client of yours.
Think more corporate!
How do you find out what a company like Google or Coca-Cola or Ford is planning for 2017 so that you know what to pitch them?
Since this presents, in my experience, the biggest problem, I’m gonna do a case study on coming up with innovative ideas for Coca-Cola.
Public companies, and almost all the Fortune 500 are, will publish goal sheets for the upcoming year.
They'll go out and they'll look at their initiatives for 2017 and they'll publish them online.
Let’s read Fortune 500’s mind! It's actually super simple.
Pop over to Google and you actually just have to search something like ‘Coca-Cola goals for 2017’.
When you search this query you'll get a bunch of articles. I opened ‘Five Strategic Actions: The Coca-Cola Company’.
A bunch of companies have these. Coca-Cola's a good example. So let’s scan through the goals. I'm going to go through this stuff really quick and I'll show you how you can interpret it to come up with app ideas.
‘’1. Driving revenue and profit growth. In emerging markets we focus primarily on increasing volume, keeping our beverages affordable and strengthening the foundation.’’
So the goal for emerging markets is to sell a lot of Coca-Cola at cheaper prices
‘’In developed markets we relied more on price/mix and improving profitability by offering more small packages and premium packages. ‘’
So in developed markets like USA, Canada, UK the goal is to sell these premium packages like glass and aluminum bottles.
So the pitch here if you're going for an app pitch to Coca-Cola is something on that matter. Maybe a collectible app or a collectible piece of technology.
This is actually a good place to pitch smart tech. What if Coca-Cola had a collectible voice app or a little hardware dongle. There's an idea. Might not be the best idea, but that is an idea based on their goals and shows you the mindset you need to be in.
‘’2. We invested in our brands and business. We made a choice to invest in more and better marketing for our brands increasing both the quantity and quality of our advertising. We’ve increased the spending by more than 250 million dollars.’’
This means Coca-Cola wants you to pitch them exciting advertising ideas around their new brands (they bought a new brand Suja) or help them market their new partnerships like the one with Monster.
So anything advertising related around those new brands. Also, in 2015 their big goal was uniting all of Coca-Cola under one name. Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Coca-Cola Life.
Help them support the entire trademark. Any app that is about all the Coca-Cola brands unified or an advertising or experiential marketing campaign about uniting all those brands will work as a pitch.
I will at least get their ears to perk up.
‘’3. We became more efficient. Part of the solution was 'zero-based work' -- a way of looking at our business that starts from the assumption that organizational budget start at zero and must be justified annually. Overall, we were able to realize more than 600 million in productivity improvements in 2015.’’
Coca-Cola is open to any pitches that will improve their productivity.
Redoing their internal communications. This might be a good time for someone like Slack to pitch Coca-Cola. Any sort of productivity based tool would work here. This is a big goal for them, this is number three on their five strategic actions.
‘’4. We simplified our company. Most importantly we began to look at ways to enhance further the employee experience across our company with the goal of creating the world's most exciting, productive, fun and fulfilling career environment with workplaces that nurse curiosity, learning innovation and growth.’’
So any app that enhances the employee experience. Maybe it's an internal reward program for employees to work harder or an opportunity for employees to maybe give their ideas to Coca-Cola.
Maybe something like Starbucks’ Idea Site, but focused internally for Coca-Cola.
Anything around making employees happier. Apps focused on that will work here.
‘’5. We refocused on our core business model. Over the years we've acquired and managed the number of Coca-Cola bottling partners with the aim of improving performance, optimizing, manufacturing and distribution systems and ultimately refranchising the bottling territories back to independent status.’’
Coca-Cola wants to hear about ideas that improve their manufacturing processes or ideas that make their bottling plants more integrated. Which can be done by software.
So those are five strategic actions from Coca-Cola. Almost all of the Fortune 500 companies have articles like this one.
You just have to Google around to find them, dig a little bit and this is what you can pull from there when you're cold emailing or cold calling these companies.
Finding an article like this and coming up with ideas based on it will be that extra step that will get you in the door versus just pitching yourself as another iOS/Android development vendor.
3. Find the marketing director on LinkedIn
Search ‘marketing director Coca Cola’, ‘marketing director Ford’ and you'll get maybe two or three people depending on how many brands are inside of the company, but you won't have too many.
4. Cold call until you get through
I’m going to go over the process I used to get through to the Head of Global Marketing and Innovation at Coca-Cola to show you how easy it actually is.
I did this without having his direct number using only the info available on their official website.
I googled Coca-Cola, went to their official website and clicked on the clearly visible contact us tab.
We are looking for company directory. No such thing here, but there is one phone number publicly available.
Next thing you know I was waiting to be connected to a Coca-Cola rep.
From this point on, all the names and numbers will be redacted so I’m not the one to blame if they get spammed. Consider this a template on getting through to your Fortune 500 decision maker.
On the other hand - you can check out the video version of the call - here.
Coca-Cola rep picks up. This is how it went.
Rep: Good morning. Coca-cola. This is --Rep--.
Me: Hey --Rep--! I’m trying to call --The Decision Maker--. And I just don’t have the number for the company directory with me.
Rep: I can get you a number for the switchboard operator. They can search that person for you. What’s your zip code?
Me: --My zip code--.
Rep: Ok. Hold on one second. The number is --##########--.
Rep: You’re more than welcome. Thanks for calling Coca-Cola.
I dial the new number, S. picks up.
S: Hey this is S.
Me: Hey S! I’m trying to find the extension for --The Decision Maker--.
S: Ok. One moment please.
The Decision maker: Hello.
Voila. You’re in. This took only a couple of minutes.
There is a lot of theories on what cold call structure to use, but this is what works good for us: open with a quick pitch of who you are then pitch the idea to them and ask for the goals for 2017.
Since you already went through step #3 you have your innovative pitch that stands out and you’re ready to go.
Cold cold until you get through. If you don't get them the first time call back an hour later.
I don't recommend leaving voicemails and there's no real tracking to show who's calling. So you can call them a bunch of times and it doesn't really matter. Just cold call 'till you get through.
It takes an average of five times calling at different times of day to get through to these people, but once you do you're able to pitch the idea and ask about the goals for 2017.
The goal of this cold call is not to sell them. The goal of this cold call is to get them on the calendar.
And you're still gonna have to follow-up via email most of the time, but sometimes they'll say: 'Hey! Yeah, that sounds good. Call me back at 3pm.'
That's what works there. So ask availability and get a meeting on the calendar. I don't recommend using Calendly or any software for this. You will just be creating additional friction to the ideal outcome. I recommend just booking it on the calendar. Reading a few times and doing it that way.
Then have the scheduled meeting. The key is to approach them as a value provider not an order taker.
Cold calling is different than managing an inbound lead. This isn't somebody who is expressing a desire in mobile app development. This is a company that you want to provide your innovation to.
The key is to unlock their innovation budget and get them to go with you because you have the best ideas not because you have the best technical prowess.
This mindset is a lot different than the way that your inbound sales team is selling right now.
There you go. Cold call, grow your business and get the ROI on your efforts and time by using this strategy. Hope you found value in this!