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  • Writer's pictureDominic Testo

Creative Prospecting



I learned a lot from my time at Bazaarvoice. They had one of the best sales cultures, as well as company cultures, that I’ve ever been a part of. Though to be fair, Eloqua was way up there as well, and it’s probably no coincidence that both of those companies had successful Initial Public Offerings (IPOs).

At Bazaarvoice, where we brought ratings and reviews technology to many of the most successful online retailers and brands, the way we engaged prospective clients through the entire sales cycle was really something special. We demanded maximum creativity and personalization from hyper-relevant outreach lead by our team of Market Developers (what the rest of the world now calls Sales Development Reps or SDRs) all the way through to new client celebrations. Importantly, these were as much about the client as they were about the sales win. We would often have clients on the line to celebrate with us as we hit a 42” gong and told the story of our newest client and how we were going to make them even more successful together.

This creative client-story-focused way of connecting was contagious and is something I’ve worked hard to bring to my own sales efforts ever since. Let me tell you about one of my favorite prospecting stories, as it was a ton of fun and I can also share the resulting photo with you in this blog cover photo.

One of the companies in my northeastern US-focused territory was Steve Madden, the shoe company. My market developer, Alvie, and I had been trying to get through to their head of e-commerce with no success. Now, I can’t recall exactly how we learned about this opportunity, but somehow, we found out that Steve Madden was going to be making a personal appearance at a Nordstrom’s here in Austin. I knew we couldn’t pass up the opportunity, so Alvie and I put our heads together and came up with a solid plan.

Fast forward a few weeks, as Alvie and I waited in line together on a Saturday morning for an hour or so for our chance to meet, and more importantly, get our picture taken with, Steve Madden. We had made a rather large sign that simply had 5 stars on it to represent the favorable customer ratings and the impact they would bring to the company’s online sales efforts.

When we got to the front of the line, we asked Steve to hold the sign while we got our picture taken with him. He was a little apprehensive about what we were going to do with the picture, but we briefly explained what we did and what we were trying to do. This certainly wasn’t the time for a detailed pitch, so he agreed to the photo and we were on our way.

We had a lot of fun using that photo in our subsequent interactions with the organization. I believe the initial response that came just a few minutes after we sent the photo to our targeted marketing executive was something along the lines of: “Well, one way or another, you managed to get a picture with my boss. I’m pretty sure I have to take the meeting now.”

The image then worked its way into every subsequent presentation and they always enjoyed hearing the story of what we did to get it.


  • It’s rarely easy to break through and get the attention of a cold prospect. Taking a creative, unique, and personalized approach improves your odds exponentially.

  • Featuring a company’s own brand (or executives) in your outreach can set you apart.

  • Sales can be a grind. Be creative and have some fun. At the very least, it’ll make for a great story later.


Scott Ingram is the host of the Sales Success Stories Podcast, where he only interviews #1 and top 1% quota carrying, individual contributor sales professionals. The story above is just one story of the sixty contained in his new book: Sales Success Stories - 60 Stories from 20 Top 1% Sales Professionals. Scott is an active practitioner himself serving his Fortune 500 clients as an Account Director at Relationship One from his home in Austin, Texas.


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