I was at a networking event last week and I noticed a woman having difficulty getting her business card out of a case to give to another person. A man who was standing next to her asked if she considered herself to be a sales person. The woman said “yes.” The man said if she was going to succeed in sales, she should always have her card ready to give out to someone. On the surface, there is some value in what he was saying. But as I was thinking about what he said, there is another side I think needs to be explored.
When you give someone your business card, the business card is a marketing tool. Your card is a reflection of you, your company, and the quality of both you and your company. Therefore, you want your business card to have a nice layout and be on good paper stock. The purpose of the business card is to give someone your contact information and an idea of what you do. That’s it. The business card is not the sales person; you are.
With that in mind, the main thing about business cards is not to pass them out, but to collect them from other people. It’s going to be a rare occasion if someone calls you because you gave them a business card, especially if you gave them the card at a networking event. Imagine how many cards that person got besides yours! The key to selling success with people you meet is to get their business card and follow-up with them.
By following up with people, you make it clear you want to do business with them and you get to control the situation. Even if someone asks for our card and tells you they will call you, find out what a good time would be for you to call them. Never leave the responsibility to move a sale forward with the prospect. You have to be the one to steer the sales process.
So, if you arrive at a networking event and you forgot your business cards, don’t worry. You now have a good reason to follow-up even if it’s just to give them your contact information. Remember, you’re there to get cards not to give them.
I conducted a webinar yesterday about filling your sales funnel. I talked on the webinar about how important it is to develop referral sources as a way to increase the number of prospects in your sales funnel. Having a pipeline full of sales prospects gives you as a sales person confidence when you are in front of a prospect. If you are talking with a prospect and this prospect is the only viable prospect you have, I can assure you the desperation of getting a sale from this prospect is going to come through. When you have a pipeline full of prospects it doesn’t become so important for you to get a sale from any particular one. When you have a confident posture, your prospect is not going to sense desperation because it is not there.
One of the best ways to fill your pipeline is from referral sources. Referral sources provide not just one referral but several referrals because you have developed a relationship with them. Getting and developing referral sources is a skill that’s developed from effective networking. You educate your referral sources on what to look and listen for that would alert the referral source this is a potential prospect for you.
The relationship between you and the referral source is not one sided. In other words, it is mutually beneficial. Your referral source benefits by providing value (you) to their prospects or acquaintances. You could also provide referrals to your referral source too.
The idea is to be aware that the relationship is a reciprocal one and you want to know what value you’re bringing to the table.
Always show appreciation and follow-up with your referral sources. This does not necessarily mean monetary compensation, although it could be. Sometimes thoughtful gifts are more meaningful and valuable to the relationship than money. However you decide to show appreciation, just make sure it is heartfelt. Another thing to keep in mind is to keep your referral source informed of what is happening with the referral they gave you. Your referral source will want to know what is happening and keeping them informed is another way to show how appreciative you are for the referral.
I go over a lot of things about filling your pipeline in the webinar. If you would like to see the video of the webinar click here: The Art of Filling Your Pipeline
We live in a time where customer service just seems to be lacking. You go into a restaurant and it seems in some cases as if you have ruined their day by showing up. You call a company and get customer service and you’re made to feel as if you are anything but a customer. It’s almost as if you have to apologize for giving some of these companies your money. What’s up with that! There are some companies that are giving excellent customer service and respond, care, and show appreciation for every customer. However, it seems that as a whole, this thing about customer service exists more on the plaques and walls then it does in the actions and minds of the employees.
As a sales representative of your company, consider it is your responsibility to ensure that the internal reality of your organization matches the external claims you are making to your prospects. If operations is not performing at the level you are representing it performs, you need to do something about that. You can’t idly stand by and say that’s not my job. If you do, you soon won’t have a job because no one will buy from you.
When I was in Memphis working for a large transportation service provider, my boss created a unique culture around customer service. His name was Bob. He started a campaign called “Yes! We can do that.” Bob created the campaign to increase our focus on customer service. If a customer made a request, we would honor the request and respond “Yes! We can do that!” It was a tremendous success! We had jackets that had the slogan on it, flyers, and banners. The entire business unit was aware of those magic five words and it was amazing. It was amazing how the customers responded too. You might think at first blush customers would seed to take advantage of a situation. But just the opposite occurred. Customer were so excited about the campaign and wanted to see it continue, they were careful not to abuse the situation. Most importantly it caused our entire organization to reflect on why we were in business and who was the most important part of our success, our customers.
So why not start a campaign of your own? Focus on the customer. Let them know you appreciate their business. Taking good care of current customers is the best way to obtain new customers.
What about your organization? Do you have the “Yes! We can do that.” mentality?