The Secret of Networking To Increase Sales

You go to a networking event and you meet a few people.  Some people could become prospects and some could potentially refer you business.  You get their business cards. After the networking event you get back to the office and put the cards on your desk where they just sit for a few days with no follow-up at all.  Has this ever happened to you?  I know I have done it.networking for sales image

The most important part of networking is follow-up.  It is in the follow-up that you expand the relationship that was initiated at the networking event.  The longer you wait to follow-up after the networking event the more erosion takes place to the new relationship.  So, let’s agree we need to follow-up immediately after the event.  If you can do it the same day that is optimal, but at the latest follow-up the next day.

A tip that may help you become consistent to follow-up immediately is to schedule your follow-up time at the same time you schedule yourself to attend the event.   Actually schedule in your calendar the time you are going to follow-up with the people you meet at the event.  This way you already have the time set aside to accomplish the follow-up in advance of the event.

Just as important as timely follow-up is trenchant follow-up.  You want to have hour follow-up be effective and move the relationship forward.  The best way to move any relationship forward is to keep your focus on the other person.  Don’t think in terms of what they can do for you, but think in terms of what you can do for them. (that was in a famous inaugural address…well it sort of went something like that)

There is a good reason for not being “me focused.”  Zig Ziglar, a famous motivational speaker, often says: “you can have anything you want if you help enough people get what they want.”  So if you want to have success in networking don’t focus on what you can get, focus on what you can give.

Now, back to follow-up!  Making your follow-up effective begins with the event.  When you meet someone at networking event get information about them.  Learn what they do in their business, what type of prospects they are looking for, what they like to do for recreation, etc.   Then discretely write some notes on the back of their business card so you don’t forget.

Then, when you follow-up you can reference your conversation in your follow-up. You can follow-up with an email.  Also, send a personal note which should arrive a couple of days later.  Better yet you could send them an article that may be beneficial for them in their business.  When you send the person something of benefit to them you are gaining favorable attention in their eyes.  Approaching the new relationship in this way will be non-threatening and the person will be more likely to meet with you to further the relationship along.

Networking is all about establishing mutually beneficial relationships.  Because people are so busy, it is very important for you to “stand out” from the crowd.  Keeping your focus on the other person and following-up effectively is the secret to showing how you are unique and a professional in the sales game.

Happy Selling

Do You Know The Real Secret To Sales Success?

Sales professionals ask all the time what really works in sales?  The answer is quite simple.  What works in sales is understanding your prospects needs and wants and then showing in a very compelling way how your product or service satisfies those needs and wants better than any other alternative.

Many times there is the thinking that there is some “magic bullet” that can be used and every prospect will do business with you.  Well, there is no “magic bullet.”    What there is though, is to use a sales system that will consistently allow you to be successful in selling business.

You always want to be improving your sales close ratio, but you will never close 100% of the business you propose.  Therefore, you’re playing the percentages and stacking them in your favor.

You need to know how many calls it takes to get a prospect and how many prospects it takes to get a customer.  It’s just that simple.  Then, you need to have a sales system that supports your efforts.

What do you need to have two main things in your sales system?  You need a way to get qualified prospects and a sales process.

Prospecting funnel – you need to have a way to keep plenty of fresh qualified prospects in your pipeline.  When you don’t have enough qualified prospects, you enter into what I refer to as the “begging cycle.”  The begging cycle is when you are so desperate to have a prospect do business with you literally beg.   It goes like this: “please, please, please, Mr./Ms. Prospect.  Do business with me!  Please!, please!, please!.”  Not only do you sound like an old James Brown record (comment on the blog if you get that one), it just doesn’t work.  After all, would you want to do business with someone who’s desperate?

When you have a pipeline full of qualified prospects and you have a sales system that yields results, you are never desperate.

There are so many ways to build your prospecting funnel.  You have networking, referrals, direct mail, webinars, etc.  The list is endless.  Use your imagination to come up with ways to increase your pipeline.

Try to think in terms of activities that leverage you time.  For example if you have a webinar you could talk to many more potential prospects at one time than you could cold calling.

Sales Process – it is a proven fact that sales people who follow a linked sequential sales process have more success than those that don’t.  A sales process basically has six steps.

  • Open – The introduction to your prospect.  Your goal here is to establish rapport
  • Gain Creditability – This is where you earn the right to continue with the sales process.  You are establishing trust here.
  • Discovery – Understanding your prospect’s needs and wants.  Here is where you find out as much about your prospect as you possibly can.  Be sure to understand the needs and wants of all the people that could influence the buying decision.
  • Presentation – Present a unique solution that satisfies the needs and wants of your prospect.  The key here is to make your solution unique from all alternatives being considered.  That also means you address the alternative of your prospect doing nothing.
  • Gain Agreement – This is where you agree to do business.  Notice I did not say close.  Gaining agreement is a natural outcome of completing the first four steps of the sales process.
  • Implement & Follow-up – Ensure that what you promised in your proposal is delivered.  Be sure to ask for referrals at this step.  Your new prospect is never going to be more excited about your relationship than now.  Capitalize on that by asking for referrals.  Make sure you have a way to review your performance for the life of the customer.  That’s the only way to ensure you will have a customer for life.

At the end of the day or even the beginning of the day, you have to have a sales system to be successful in sales.  You need a way to find ’em and then sell ’em.

Happy Selling