Picture this…You are an experienced sales person or perhaps a sales manager. The partners in your company have just had a meeting and called all the staff together. They make a sombre announcement, you must all raise sales by 20%, the firm’s revenue is down and it’s up to all of you to put your shoulder to the wheel and bring in more sales. There is a collective groan.
“How do we do that?” asks one of your braver colleagues. “Well go join a business networking group suggests one of the partners, get out from behind your desk and make some new connections. That is a sure fire way to generate more business!”
Your colleague seated beside you says under his breath “Easy for you to say”.
The reality in business today is that there is more and more pressure for staff in professional service firms to bring in more billable hours. Not only that with the shape of the economy there is more pressure on most sales people to meet what seem like impossible targets at times.
The typical first response is to hit the phones and start calling people, either old contacts we know or just call anyone. The problem with this strategy is the success rate…or should I say lack of success rate. The hard facts are that for every one hundred cold calls you make just three people will do business with you. Sobering statistics. Worse still is the amount of rejection and negativity that making those calls generates. It is totally demoralising to have to hear no 97 times before you get to a YES!
There is an easier way, doing business by relationship. We all know lots of people, in fact social scientists tell us that most people know a minimum of 250 other people. Go through your phone contacts right now and I bet you will have more than that in your phone and that’s before we get to your company database of contacts.
So assemble a list of your contacts, next sort them into three categories or networks, your Guru network, your Greats network and your Go To network. People in your Gurus network might include people who are or where in your profession, or other members of your professional organisation.
People in your Greats network might include mentors, or people you have mentored, former managers or others you have helped. Finally, your Go To network will be made up of satisfied clients, people you’ve given business to or received business from and members of a business network group.
Once you have the three lists choose five names from each list and make contact with them, arrange to meet for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, drinks after work, whatever is appropriate for that person. The key with the people you choose is that you both share the same target market AND you are not in competition with them.
Now I want to make this clear right now, you are not going to sell anything to these people, your aim in fact will be to do business with one or more of the 250 people they know.
Arrange a meeting and at that meeting explain that you are on a mission to increase sales, their sales! That’s right, their sales! Here is a typical explanation I would use.
“Hi Sue, you and I know lots of people and in fact we both work with the same kind of clients, the best part is we do not compete with our products or services. I think we could help each other in business to achieve more sales, are you interested in getting more sales? YES! Great, so how about you educate me about the best kind of prospect you want to work with while I take notes.”
Once Sue has described her ideal client, your job is to comb through your database and identify a group of say ten prospects that meet her description. Next you will agree how you are going to introduce these people to Sue to see if they can do business together.
Of course once you have completed this process you can swap and you describe your best clients to Sue, who will reciprocate in kind. This part of the process is critical to your success, you must be in exchange for this relationship system to work. If you help them first, they can’t stop themselves from helping you in return.
Think about how easy this process is versus cold calling. You get introduced to someone who is keen to meet you, by someone they know and trust. They are most likely ready to buy and all you have to do is get into relationship in order for them to purchase from you.
Doing business by relationship is simple, though not always easy, take the time to work your network and you will be rewarded with serious sales results.