“Kristen Gill possesses drive, intelligence, creativy, and a total commitment to success. When I worked with her, I found that her high energy and dedication fueled all the projects she worked on.”
Doug Heppner, Area Vice President, TAC Worldwide Companies

“I had the pleasure of working with Kristen at BroadReach Partners. She was one a small group of elite business development managers who you knew could always get it done right. If she was on a program of yours, you knew you had the best. Her ability to quickly master a client's value proposition and pitch it aggressively to prospects was extraordinary. A real go-getter who could speak to C-level execs on their level, ask the right questions, and land business for our clients. I recommend her highly.”
Michael Handel, Program Director, BroadReach Partners

“Kristen is an innovative, action and results-oriented individual who continually seeks higher standards and execution of work in the areas of inside sales, telemarketing and client development.”
Mike Ball hired Kristen in 2005

“Kristen is a thorough and skilled new business developer. Great on the phone with getting appointments. Her ideas are practical and creative.”
Mechele Flaum hired Kristen as a Business Consultant in 2007

Kristen Gill

Kristen Gill
Principal, The Rafters Group
Business Development and Sales expert with over a dozen years of experience. I am able to help companies figure out how to increase the quality of their sales pipeline and improve their messaging to the marketplace. An engagement with The Rafters Group helps companies in their penetration of net new strategic accounts within their market and improves their overall sales effectiveness. Additionally, together my clients and I:
1. Help generate interest with new high-level target executives

2. Bring in qualified opportunities and increase understanding of prospect needs

3. Increase revenue pipeline and market penetration

4. Develop targeting, messaging and market development materials such as introductory letters and emails, drug and company-specific intelligence and organizational mapping (of product teams)

5. Train and improve sales performance at the organizational, as well as at the individual sales contributor, level

Past Posts

Seeing the Forest for the Trees

Idiomatic Expression:

to see the forest for the trees
1.(idiomatic) To discern an overall pattern from a mass of detail; to see the big picture, or the broader, more general situation

Sure, it's important to focus in on the details of our business...the trees of our forest, but it's also just as important to step back and take in the whole thing. By consistently focusing on details, our attention is drawn this way and that way...tugged from one highly important or urgent issue to the next. Not every tree in our forest grows perfectly straight, in fact, each one has imperfections and quirks.

As a CEO or highest level executive, we cannot be focused solely at the tree level. If we are, we are missing the big picture, the forest, overall patterns. When we step back and look at the thing as a whole, we will quickly see where there are areas needing help and we see overarching trends. There may very well be areas to which we need to attend.

This is when we get out our trail maps and head into the forest...We have assigned caretakers to each tree, or section of forest, our executive leadership, our directors and managers. We should help them identify that they need to keep up. We need get in there, only briefly, to give them visibility, brainstorm solutions and then get back out to full view.

If we can't see the forest for the trees, we need to step back and adjust our view. It's often a problem with delegation to those at the tree level, but it just might be our own preference for sitting under a single tree. Tactical vs. strategic concerns interest some leaders. How do you pull back and refocus on the forest in your business?

Selling in Context

"Most people don't know what they want until they see it in context"
Dan Ariely

At the heart of selling is communicating a new reality of which your products, services or offerings are a part. In order to do that well, the potential customer has to grasp how your offering fits into their current plans. They have to understand what a solution like you offer means to their bottom line, personal and professional goals. There is no way to figure out the customer's "context" without asking and listening to their answers.

It is said that selling is 80% listening, and I believe this is true, but it's not just listening for your own benefit. It's not just keenly focusing, trying to pluck pain points from what they say. It's not frantically scribbling down challenges they have that you can solve or fix. No. It's far more than that. The process of the customer listing their goals, challenges and aspirations is an integral part of them imagining your solution integrated into the context of their corporate challenges.

My friends over at the Wellsley Hills Group have a great method for HOW to lead these types of conversations. Find it here.

Googling Targets and Relevant Messages

At The Rafters Group, we need to keep up with a lot of business news. In fact, at any given point, we can be targeting and closely monitoring over two-hundred potential clients. This means, we need to know what is going on in their company, their industry, and their world. Additionally, there are certain triggers that will make them more interested in hearing our pitch. Spending time thinking about what motivates a prospect, both professionally and personally, and setting up Google alerts to keep vigil for you, can be a life-saver.

In general using Google to find information isn't hard. However, building a filter that will sift out all the information you can't use is an art.

1) Use the + (plus) and - (minus) signs to combine search terms and reduce search results, respectively. Here is an example...yesterday I was searching for the person who might be the key anti-counterfeiting and brand protection contact at companies. In order to find the person I used the following string:

"Vice President" + "Anti-counterfeiting" +"company name"

It returned EXACTLY what I wanted.

2) Use quotes to search for EXACT phrases, see above example and try it yourself.

3) Think about trigger events as changes that improve your chances of getting in the door with a particular client. What events might help you? Merger? Acquisition? New product launch? Then, write your alerts with that in mind.

4) Use your target list as a starting point. Even creating alerts for "Company name" + "CEO name" is a start and will get you SOMETHING...

Email us (kgill@raftersgroup.com) if you want to learn more about Google alerts. We can help you figure out how to set up the alerts, what to comb the market for, and how to hone your searches to get more and more specific information. We run a half day workshop on relevant messaging and effective research. Happy hunting!

Don't Give Away Your Product

A meeting I had yesterday got me thinking about something I want to share with you. Over my years in business, I have bumped into a lot of companies who use a "try and buy" approach. Let's take a look at this for minute.

I know it is tempting to give away your products, services, or time. A lot of companies do this in an attempt to "get in the door." The problem with this is that it devalues your business and your reputation, whether you know it immediately or not. It degrades the potential client's perception of your company from a potential "good deal" or "quality value" to "bargain basement." It's ok to say you are flexible and willing to help "risk-share" or "reduce the barrier to entry" for a potential client, but you rarely need to give away product.

Most often, it's common that the prospective client is objecting and you are missing, ignoring, or not fully hearing that objection. The objection is not, "I won't pay for your product or services." It is probably more along the lines of, "I am not fully convinced yet" or "I need you to help me better understand the value of this solution to me and my business."

If you feel yourself tempted to give your business away, try asking a question like this instead,

"If there were no cost to try this solution out, would you do it?" That will get to the heart of the objection, without you actually having to perform business services for free. Free devalues you. You are better than that. You are a value, but not a dollar-store deal.

Relevant Voice Mailing

Step 1: Open with your research
Use the the main reason you found that you think makes them a good prospect
Imagine if you were in their position at their company, what would you care about?
What do you think they are tasked with?
Are there any relevant stories from your experience bank?

Step 2: Follow with a strong, enticing value proposition
Use numbers, percentages, or examples
Share an insightful idea
Use the word idea
Show them that you do know who they are and what they do

Step 3: Close with CONFIDENCE
Call them to action...
Ask them to have their assistant call you back to set a time.
Explain that you will keep calling to find a time.
A great closing call to action is: "Can you open your calendar now?"

Target the Wrong Person First

A lot of what The Rafters Group does is assist companies in their penetration of new markets. In fact, most of our engagements are outsourced business development focused. Today's tip is a practice which helps immensely in door opening.

Target the wrong person first. What does this mean? If you ultimately want to talk to the CIO, target the COO or the CFO first. If you can get the wrong person talking, sometimes you can glean more information so that, when you DO get the right person on the phone, you are better prepared. There are many reasons why this works:

1) When you are targeting a person, a specific person, you are pushing. When you are calling into the wrong person, you are travelling in the world of the unknown. This puts you into a pulling mode. You are asking questions and looking for information, instead of trying to sell your product or services.

2) You are asking for help. When you are calling the wrong person, your approach is generally one of, "I was wondering if you could help me..."

3) You are using this "wrong person" as a champion. You are building a referral relationship from scratch. It's not hard to do and doesn't take long if you are truly asking for help...sincerity makes this approach work.

4)Sometimes the best "wrong person" to go to is the Chairman of the Board or a prominent board member. Imagine a conversation that starts out like this:
John, I was just looking on your Website and reading about XYZ, Inc. I thought I might give you a call to see if you could help me. I work for a company that offers a particular service that I think might be of interest to your company because...(fill in a relevant message here). Any thoughts or ideas about the viability of an idea like this? Any idea who I should start with in the organization?
5) I find that the gatekeeper can even be the "wrong person" you start with as long as you treat him/her like they have a brain in their head. In fact, explaining very simply what your company does and asking if he/she thinks there might be interest somewhere in the organization can get you a meeting with the exact right person.

Good luck and have fun talking to the wrong person today!

Relevance Makes the World Go Round


1 relevant
having crucial relevance; "crucial to the case"; "relevant testimony"

2 relevant - having a bearing on or connection with the subject at issue; "the scientist corresponds with colleagues in order to learn about matters relevant to her own research"
Relevancy is key in today's marketplace. Imagine getting forty voicemails a day, five hundred emails, inundated with offers, pitches and sales calls. What will separate you from the pack? RELEVANT MESSAGES So few marketers use personalization in their messages – less than 10% in fact. And of those, a majority utilize less than 5 points of personalization. Personalization used properly will make your emails stand out from the clutter, increase your response and conversion rates, and ultimately drive sales. A study done by YesMail showed response rates triple when the number of personalization elements were increased from 1 or 2 to 7 or 8.

I’m not referring to simply saying “Dear First Name” in an email salutation – even spammers can do this today, but thoughtful idea sharing. Show the prospect you are targeting that you have read their entire body of Web work. Relevance comes at the point of intersection between your offer and their needs. Find the general vicinity of this intersection and they will listen.

What does THIS prospect need from you?
Always make sure it's a message that speaks to the need your prospective customer feels, not some self-centered stuff about you. Your message should change for each and every prospect you contact.

Imagine your client is thinking:
What’s in it for me?
Why do I care about your idea?
Why should I listen to you?

Ask yourself:
What does my prospect do?
What do they care about?
What events impact them personally, professionally, and as an industry?
What's in it for them?
If I ran their business, why would I care about this solution, offer, idea?