There are no real "hacks" to reaching customers. It's just a bunch of hard work -- in 4 real steps:
1. Strategy -- identify what makes you unique / how you drive unique value to that "dream client"
2. Process -- put in place the steps to email / call / connect with them
3. Tools -- use smart tools to manage your time and the comunication (do.com, infusionsoft, rapportive, streak, etc...)
4. Connections -- ask for specific help in executing your strategy
There are no long term shortcuts or "hacks" to this. It's just hard work. BUT -- once you have your prospecting factory set up you drive massive results.
(I'm happy to share more specifics if you are interested)
Let them find you. The more you demonstrate through what you do and how you do it that solving a problem specifically for them, the easier it is for them to find you and recognize that you are a good alternative for them to consider. It's all about being deliberate and doing all you can to reflect back to them that you get them and their problem.
We need to split your question into two parts...
"Hard-to-find customers" is a red flag to me. That sounds as if you have a product or service looking for a market, which is pretty tough way to build a business. Unless you have figured out your product-market fit (which assumes you know who your market(s) is/are) you should not be selling yet.
If you have confirmed that there is a market need and your product/service is of value, then you should be selling. There are a variety of strategies to get to "hard-to-reach customers". Often there are existing channels that already own relationships with your targets, and partnering can be a way to get to them quickly. Sometimes an audacious, disruptive business model can help gain the attention of your targets. Creating industry notoriety through luminary customers or media exposure can also help you get noticed by targets, but that will require a purposeful, focused marketing effort. And if you have already built relationships with some customers, you should be able to ask them for referrals to other prospects (assuming they are happy with your solution), and seek their advice on how best to approach targets.
It sounds to me like there is another question behind the question you have actually asked. Are you having trouble getting adoption of a product you just started selling? Are you newer to sales and trying to figure out the rules of the road? If you would like to provide some more context around what you are trying to do, I would be happy to help if I can. If I can't, I will make my best effort to point you to someone that can.
Hey guys - thanks for the great answers. Looking back, I worded this question really poorly.
Here is an example of the unique methods or hacks I was referring to....
1) Something I call the Barnes & Noble Hack - I needed to build a list of enterprise sales targets with titles like "Director of Innovation" or "VP of Collaboration". Since those titles are non-standard, they're tough to find.
So a unique hack I figured out. Find books on innovation, enterprise collaboration, etc. on Amazon. Go to Barnes & Noble and flip to back cover. Books are usually blurbed by execs with these titles. (VP of Innovation at HP, etc.).
This allowed me to make a spreadsheet - target list of the right customers and it gave me something to open the conversation with (thanks for your blurb - I also loved the book.....etc.)
2) I've met a lot of the same people by holding a quarterly event. Then the initial ask is not one to demo my startup, it's an ask for them to be an expert panelist on my event (discussing big brand / startup partnerships). As the host, I get to develop relationships with the execs. Then later on (they've all loved being on the panel), it's a warm intro to talk to them about a demo.
I realized after posting that my question wasn't worded to elicit those types of answers. I'm sorry about that and I appreciate the responses.