Reaching the unreachable is a long-standing B2B sales challenge.

In years past, B2B sales people dealt with executive assistants as gatekeepers. In the digital age, voicemail and unread email are the most common gatekeepers.

Types of Unreachable People

Generally, the unreachable fall into two categories. Let’s look at both types and ethical ways to reach them through social selling practices and more.


Busy executives are surrounded by trusted advisors. One of the most effective ways to reach an unreachable executive is to build relationships with his or her trusted advisors. Consider that trusted advisors can be staff, peers, friends and even family members.

The ethical way to use social media to identify the executive’s trusted advisor network is to put him or her on your “watch list” and follow them closely. This approach requires extreme patience.

For example, if you’re trying to reach an executive at a 5,000 person company you can create a Google Alert for her name and follow every mention. You can also add her to a Twitter list and a custom list in LinkedIn.

If you learn that she’s planning to speak at a conference, you know she’ll be at that event at least during the time of her scheduled speech. If you can attend, this is potentially an opportunity to meet her in person.

If you’ve been patiently following her through publicly available information online, you might discover that she enjoys live theater. Send her theater tickets to a show in her location.

The role of social media in this approach is mostly limited to following her updates, published articles, announcement and engagement with her trusted advisors. Use LinkedIn to identify her network through shared connections, or “people also viewed.” Your goal is to gain insight into her interests, achievements, announcements, engagement with others and any other relevant activities.

Remember to use common sense and discretion in how you communicate. See my Poolside Sales Chat post on the difference between following someone and stalking someone.

The Digitally Invisible Person

Sometimes people are digitally invisible for the very purpose of being hard to reach. Or, this person could be a throwback to the days previous to social media and digital communication. In either scenario, your options are more limited. Here’s my guidance on how to reach the digitally invisible person.

As I mentioned above, the person you want to reach is surrounded by trusted advisors. Seek to determine who they are and find ways to engage with them in social channels. I call this finding the path to the buyer.

Use influencer tracking software such as BuzzSumo, FollowerWonk, Kred, Klout, Little Bird, TapInfluence, Traackr and others to source the people who influence your buyer. Work hard to connect, engage and build relationships with them because they are potentially the path to the digitally invisible person you want to reach.

Often even a digitally invisible person has a presence on Facebook. If that’s true, use extreme discretion and common sense. Limit your focus to gaining insights about the person. Do NOT leverage personal information as a means to engaging with them, unless you are very comfortable that it’s relevant and ethical. Again, use discretion and common sense.

If you know that the person you want to reach will be at an event, that’s an opportunity to meet them in person if you can attend the event. Don’t be shy. Introduce yourself with a well rehearsed 5 second elevator pitch that is friendly, not aggressive and memorable. If possible, reference someone you know who is part of his trusted advisor network along with a reason to bridge to a conversation that you want to continue.

This encounter could be an opportunity to present your knowledge of the work he is doing in an area of his business. If he engages you in conversation about it, ask him if there is someone on his team that you can meet to discuss it further. He just might empower a staff member to meet with you, or perhaps even suggest participating in this meeting if you’ve effectively captured his attention.

Personalized Video Email

One way to break through the clutter to reach someone who is unreachable is to send a personal video via email. Once you’ve obtained her email address, record a short video in the range of 15 to 60 seconds. Make it clear that you recorded this video specifically for her. Use her name and demonstrate that you’ve done your homework. Be sure to capture her attention with a topic you know interests her and how you can help her on this topic.

Reaching unreachable people has long been a challenge for B2B sales professionals. Using creativity and persistence combined with ethical social selling practices, you can reach the people you need to reach.

Feature Image courtesy of Pixabay: Gerd Altmann.