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

Sales Person Or Sales Professional?

What is your sales philosophy?  I was talking with Ken, a friend and business associate, yesterday and we had a conversation about the difference between a sales person and a sales professional.  On the surface you may think there is no difference, but the difference is in their philosophy.

A philosophy is a system of beliefs, values, and tenets.  Everyone has a belief system even if you have not taken the time to think about what it is for you.  When it comes to selling, the sales professional’s approach to the marketplace is to assist their prospects to buy versus to sell them something.

What does it mean to assist to buy?  Pretty much everyone has heard the old saying “people hate to be sold, but they love to buy.”  When we think of someone being “sold” something our first thought is they were manipulated or conned into doing something they did not want to do.

A sales professional never cons someone into buying something they don’t need or that  is not in their best interest.   The sales professional does not make a recommendation because it pays the highest commission or helps them win the sales contest.

Conversely, the sales professional provides solutions to their prospects and provides value that helps their prospects achieve the goals that are important to them.  In so doing, the sales professional creates an opportunity to not only service the one prospect, but to obtain referrals to other prospects as well.

The sales professional understands that the long term benefit is in creating value for their prospects.   Having the mindset of putting the prospect’s needs first establishes a foundation for a long term, mutually beneficial relationship that will yield a huge return.

It could be easy to be shortsighted and try to manipulate someone into buying something.   But, in the long run you actually make it harder on yourself when you do that.

The personal benefits of having the sales professional philosophy versus the sales person philosophy are huge.  When I was talking with Ken he mentioned that the sales professional is creating a lifestyle while the sales person is just making money.  The ironic thing is the sales professional out earns the sales person while creating this lifestyle.

The question now for you is: what about your sales philosophy?  Why not write down what your beliefs and values are about the way you sell.  If you are a business owner or sales manager, what is your company’s sales philosophy?  Take the time to examine your sales philosophy and see if it is leading you in the direction you want to go.  Are you a sales person or a sales professional?

Happy Selling

Good Conversation Stimulates Like Black Coffee

When was the last time you were really engaged in a conversation that was stimulating?  One thing is for sure; you were engaged in the conversation because the conversation was about something you were interested in.

Let’s face it there is nothing more boring than to be talking about something you feel is a waste of time.  With that in mind, how do you think your prospects feel when you are talking about something that is not of interest to them?

Conversations with prospects have to be crafted, planned, and well thought out to be stimulating.  One of the biggest challenges is to match the right conversation with the right person.

What I mean by that is a conversation with a CEO is going to be different than a conversation with a CFO, which is different than a conversation with a manager.  The reason these conversations are different is because the needs and interests of these people are different.

A one size fits all conversation about the value you bring to prospective clients will not work.   If you don’t tailor your conversation based on the needs and concerns (interests) of the person you are talking to, you won’t get very far.

For example, according to The Conference Board CEO Challenge 2010 Survey, the number one challenge CEOs say they are facing is excellence in execution followed closely by consistent execution of strategy by top management.  If you tailor your conversations to center around these points, you will be an instant hit.

It’s pretty easy to do.  You just simply state how your product or service will help with excellence in execution.   If you provide employee benefits you could discuss how execution is vital and what you and your firm are doing to address that.

Similarly, a recent study by IBM of over 1,900 CFOs and other senior financial executives revealed the top three priorities for CFOs are: reducing the cost base, making faster, more accurate decisions and providing more transparency to external stakeholders.

When you put yourself in the other person’s world and talk about things that are of interest to them you will increase receptivity to your message.  Your conversations will be engaging and you will develop relatedness at all levels in the prospect organization.

The best way to have stimulating conversations is to plan.  If you know you are going to be meeting with the CEO develop a few conversation topics of interest.  If you are going to a networking event and CFOs will be there, plan your conversations.

Taking a little time to plan and construct a conversation that is meaningful for your audience can pay huge dividends in the long run.  Always make your conversation stimulating.

Happy Selling