Knoa Software, based in New York, found revenue where no budget existed. It met with the right executive, who suffered business pains but also had power, though he had no budget to spend.

The result: A $500K deal. It was unbudgeted and the shortest software sale Knoa's VP of marketing, Lori Wizdo, had seen in her 28 years. And it was just the first phase of a global deployment.

It's tough out there. Budgets are being cut. Markets are shrinking. Prospects aren't buying the way they used to. But you can still sell effectively. You just have to think differently.

The message is important, but it's effective only if the right people read it. The process that you use to present your message is what makes the difference.

Knoa concluded that the only way to hunt for and capture any meaningful return on investment (ROI) was to target those who worked in the highest levels of a company, so it focused on driving meetings with senior executives.

Poet Robert Browning said "a man's reach should exceed his grasp," but it may be more appropriate in this context to say "a man's grasp can exceed his reach." Roger Boyce, CEO of Evident Software, based in Newark NJ, understood that, aimed beyond his reach, and nabbed meetings with dozens of executives, including Barbara Koster, CIO of Prudential Financial, also based in Newark.

Here are eight tips for securing meetings with the right executives.

1. Realize that executives want to talk

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Steve Lightstone is president of Corner Office Leads (, where he is responsible for overall operations and the development of methodologies. Reach him via