I’ll bet your work day is packed. You have meetings, colleagues stop by with questions. There are all sorts of distractions.
So what is the best time to call on a prospect? Their day is probably a lot like yours.
Try calling them at 8:05 am or 4:50 pm, even 5:30 pm.
Why is the best time to call so early or late in the day? Simple. Most executives start their day early and end late. They are at the office far past 6:00 pm. I know I am. The only times I leave early are when I have another appointment that I have to get to.
Before and after normal work hours, most of their staff is gone. That means they are in the office and usually not as distracted. That’s the best time to reach without getting a quick brush off or having to talk your way past the gatekeeper.
If you run your own business, you know exactly what I am talking about. Who leaves to go home at 5:00? Very few executives do that.
If they aren’t in their office, they are certainly checking email when they wake up and before they go to bed. And when your message has less to compete with (i.e., fewer other emails they have to scroll through compared to what they get during the day), you stand a higher chance of getting a response.
In fact, my company, MailerMailer, just released our latest email marketing metrics report based on data from 1.2 billion email messages. We found that emails sent during off-hours generate the highest number of clicks on links within the message.
In other words, reaching people before or after hours gives you the best odds in getting their attention. Not only is it the best time to call, but is also the best time to send them email.
Don’t ever ask this “power question” to an executive: what keeps you up at night?
It is not a power question. Quite the contrary.
Fred, the chief executive for North America of a large multi-national company, was very clear and direct. In an interview described in the book, Power Questions, by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas, Fred made some excellent points about why this question can result in you being escorted out of the door.
The bottom line: it shows that you didn’t do your homework. You could come across as not knowing enough about the executive’s business to ask informed questions that delve into specific issues they are facing.
The right power questions can show off what you know. They can also help build trust.
Instead of asking something cliche, do your homework and ask timely questions about topics they are dealing with. Some examples of intelligent power questions for executives:
- How is social media affecting your clients’ decision making process about buying your products?
- How do you see the economic crisis in Europe affecting your ability to export?
- What is your strategy to offset market share erosion from lower-priced competitors?
Each of these power questions for executives shows that you are aware of an issue that they are facing. Ask them to your boss, his/her boss, even the company president. The smartest senior executives will pick you out from the crowd as someone to watch and possibly nurture into a leadership role.
Inc. Magazine has a section that profiles entrepreneurs’ work habits, The Way I Work. Every person they highlight shares a common theme: all of them spend a large amount of time looking at issues at a high level. They want to make sure that the activities they and their staff work on are aligned with overall goals. In other words, their habits allow them to work on their business, not just in it.
Here are 5 good work habits from successful entrepreneurs:
1. Always keep your biggest dream in focus. Inc’s piece about social media celebrity Gary Vaynerchuck highlights his obsession for one-to-one engagement and how everything he does is directed at achieving his ultimate goal: acquiring the New York Jets.
2. Use email filters and folders for screening. Your Inbox is probably flooded. David Karp, founder of Tumblr, had trouble managing his emails. He let emails pile up, forgot to reply to important messages and got overwhelmed. Now, filters route messages into folders so he stays organized.
3. Obsess over metrics. LivingSocial CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy checks his company’s aggregate revenue, number of units sold and other data every morning before getting out of bed – that’s at 5:00 a.m. He is constantly looking for patterns in numbers. They give insight into what to improve and where new opportunities exist.
4. Don’t obsess over work hours. Jason Fried, CEO of 37Signals, reports that he has no idea how many hours his staff works. He just knows that they get the work done. And isn’t that the most important part? Stop clocking yourself. It’s irrelevant.
5. Feel okay about making mistakes. “Don’t overthink” is Rashmi Sinha‘s matra. The CEO of SlideShare makes a good point when she says that if you spend too much time thinking about something before you execute it, you still might make a mistake. It’s better to roll out software faster than to overthink it worrying that something isn’t quite right.