In my job as a sales and marketing trainer and coach, I often work with small groups of salespeople. After a couple of months working with a group of new salespeople, I asked what they had learned. One of the answers was, “Every interaction is an opportunity.” What a wonderful perspective to have, not just in business but in life as well.
While I am delighted by this answer, it deserves some explanation. We’ve all run into people who saw every interaction as an opportunity…to promote themselves, their products and services. To them, every interaction is a selling opportunity. They never stop. They are the people that even family members avoid sitting next to at Thanksgiving. That interpretation is not the one that delighted me nor is it the one intended by the salesperson who offered it.
“Every interaction is an opportunity” means approaching each conversation with an attitude of seeking ways to help; help the person you are speaking to, identify new resources that will meet the needs of clients, and to help those you have business referral relationships with. Opportunities are uncovered by truly communicating: asking questions, listening and speaking in sentences, not in paragraphs. As we let people get to know us and we find those similarities that we share, we create connections that can become meaningful and productive.
Entering every conversation with the expectation of finding ways to help others adds a pleasurable dimension to attending meetings and networking events. It’s all in the attitude; get out there and meet opportunity.
Well, from a points perspective, last week was pretty good. This was mainly due to an event we did on Thursday. Of the 165 points for the week, 99 were related to the event. That’s a good Score Card but those points are only as good as the follow up.
Social events are an important part of my referral marketing strategy and one of the main ways I make new connections. It is how I make it easy for my referral partners and clients to refer me. Lots of planning goes into events but they can be very productive from a relationship building perspective. The Certified Networker Night on Thursday gave us as opportunity to recognize clients, provide a speaking opportunity to a former client and important relationship, renew old connections with current and former clients, and meet new business people who could either become prospects or good referrals or connections for members of my network. I was also able to use one of my clients as the caterer and thus promote her business while giving her business.
So the proof in the pudding will be in the coming weeks. How many opportunities did we create and how many of those will turn into business, not just for me but also for my clients who attended the event?
I’ve got house guests coming on Friday, my brother, Paul and his wife, Betsy. They are easy company and I’m really looking forward to the visit. But have to keep the focus this week and set things up for the next. They’ll be here for 10-11 days so I’ll need to be creative with my marketing and communications to not let things drop while remaining a good host. When you are the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, these are the types of things that can put a big dent in the pipeline if you let them. We’ll see how I do.
Last week being a short week would offer a great excuse for not attaining 100 points. But we’re in a no whining zone so we’ll take what we get.
I was able to make two referrals, one that I think will lead to follow on business beyond the initial need. I also had a number of 1-to-1 meetings with referral partners and potential referral partners that are leading to appointments. My strategy meetings were particularly good last week and this week I’m following up on a number of ideas that came up in them.
As usual, I tried to reach out to my C’s and P’s to stay in touch. Phone calls and emails, as well as a few taunts on Fit Bit. One thing I haven’t figured out for point value is Linked In connections, thank-you’s and responses, and endorsements. I’m trying to be more aware of this activity and what the results of it are. LI can me an important element in your marketing strategy so it’s worth keeping an eye on effort and result.
So that was the week that was…and this is the week that is. So I’d best get at it. Got to top last week’s total and add some results to that Score Card. Give me a little something to celebrate this weekend.
One of the challenges of sales and marketing is being consistent. I know it is the biggest bugaboo for me. Like many, I see the value in having systems in place but in the day-to-day scheme of things it is hard to stay between the white lines. Thus my fascination with the Networking Score Card. It is an easy way to establish some of the habits that make for successful referral development. (If right now you’re wondering, “Score Card?” shoot me a note.)
So in the spirit of “…an apple a day” I am setting out to obtain and document 100 points per week on my Networking Score Card. I will post my point totals here each week and invite you to play along. Check out how I am doing. Let us know how you are doing. Share successes and failures and ask questions, either as part of the discussion or to me directly. Would be glad to do a phone call or meet in person. And as always, remember, it’s OK to buy me a beer.
Watch for Week #1` post. This is going to be great! Who’s in?
The theme for this week seems to be leads generation. So let’s take a look at it from a few perspectives.
First, why are you gathering leads? The obvious, first answer is getting names of prospects for your business. But you may be building a mailing list for a newsletter, or building your support or information network. Or maybe you are positioning yourself as a hub firm so that you become a referral producing machine. Let’s assume you are developing prospects.
Now, what activities are you involved in that produce leads? Making a list of all of them is good, then reviewing the eight sources of referrals: clients, contact spheres, power teams, people you do business with (or who expressed interest in doing business but didn’t), people whose business benefits from yours, referral groups, business and social groups, staff members and friends, and key referral partners. Hey, wait! That’s nine. Well, I guess you can’t have too many.
Let’s start with clients. There is no end to the ways suggested to extract referrals from your clients. My caution has always been that your relationship with them is the most important thing. You work hard to gain their trust and thus, their business. You do not want to damage that in any way, so how and when you ask for referrals will depend on a number of factors. Have you laid the ground work for asking? Have you earned the right? Some people are not concerned with these questions but most of us are. So it is important to prepare your clients for their role as a referral source. You might start with the idea that you will encounter a broad spectrum of attitudes in your client base regarding making referrals. This runs from first-date- spill-their-guts-tell-you-all-and-everyone to the more cautious “I don’t normally do that” client who will require a long relationship-building process to convert. How you go about asking for referrals and when you do it depends heavily on your behavioral style, your client’s style, and the quality of relationship you have built with them.
That’s plenty to get started on. Next time we’ll talk about making yourself a resource for your clients. Remember don’t come out of the gate asking for something before you have made the deposits. Focus on building relationships and the referrals will follow.
There are three attitudes that are critical for referral success. These
attitudes affect how others perceive you, how they relate to you, and if they will refer business to you.
Critical Attitude #1
Givers Gain – build relationships with the attitude of giving to the other person
in ways that are meaningful to them. If you are always listening for ways to
contribute to the other person you will build great relationships and a great
reputation. Do you actively listen for ways to help others when you are
Critical Attitude #2
The Platinum Rule – treat others the way they want to
be treated. Dr. Tony Alessandra, top expert in the field of Behavioral Styles,
popularized the term and the idea that we have better relationships if we treat
others the way they want to be treated vs. the Golden Rule concept of treating
others the way we want to be
treated. Understanding behavioral styles is essential to truly adopt this
attitude. However, just tuning into the other person and matching their style will
make them more comfortable with you. For example, at the simplest level, if
someone is high energy and very enthusiastic, match them with enthusiastic
responses and a fast paced conversation. For a more reserved, quiet person,
tone it down and take your time. Do you put other people at ease when you
interact with them?
Critical Attitude #3
It’s all my fault – successful people take full responsibility for the life
they create. Since referrals come from other people, it is easy to blame others
for bad referrals, not giving referrals back when you refer them, or not
treating the referral the way you would want. If you adopt the “It’s all
my Fault” attitude, you will be more proactive in training others to bring
you good referrals, make sure they are motivated and know how to give referrals
back to you, and coach them on how to handle a referral to protect the
relationship and turn the referral into closed business.