The best way to achieve success in a competitive market is to conduct business with those that know you and trust you. Success is based on building meaningful relationships with clients that love what you do and desire to help blow your horn. The best concepts are networking and marketing, these are the quickest paths for business success.
Cold calling, direct mail and other traditional selling methods do little to build relationships- they simply anger and frustrate. When was the last time you took a call in the evening after a lengthy day from a cold calling maven? And when was the last time you spoke with a million dollar insurance agent that cold calls?
Today’s selling professional requires techniques that help to accentuate and differentiate from others. In a business culture where social networks proliferate the only true network is that built between a client and business professional. Clients enjoy the candor and the knowledge that is shared from a vendor. To this end, there are several methods that assist selling professionals.
Truly the best selling professionals constantly network. Selling professionals by nature require constant engagement with others to comprehend business trends and meet new opportunities. For over 27 years I attend at least one to two networking events per month and I can measure these to business. Admittedly, there exist a plethora of networking associations and organizations, choose those close to your location and aligned with your business. Review your local paper for functions that interest you and attend as a guest, but go. If do not attend your competitors are. Others cannot know your business with just a shingle hanging in the breeze.
Proper networking and selling etiquette involves referral acquisition. Similar to gaining closure agreement many professionals abhor asking for the order! Business is driven by the ability to ask for new business. If clients are happy with your work they will willingly provide others that can need to receive your value. The best way to seek referrals is when you are first engaged with the client and they are at that emotional high. More importantly you want to ask when you are in the account, since this is the best time to be top of mind. Post sale is not an alternative simply put, out of sight out of mind.
Another imperative item to remember is that there is strength in numbers, the more you obtain the fuller the pipeline. There is a story of an insurance professional that would visit clients and not leave without three new referrals. Even if the client provided one or two, the agent would not leave until he received three or more. Needless to say, the agent retired an extremely wealthy individual.
Follows up on referrals
It might seem pragmatic, yet there is much evidence to illustrate that a myriad of professionals that obtain do not follow up. Friends, family and clients typically provide these golden nuggets, so it is vital that one follows up. Call immediately after you receive a contract or verbal conceptual agreement. Begin a call with the person that referred you so that this creates immediate attention and credibility.
Good networking professionals have a positive attitude. They do not carry baggage with them nor do they illustrate negative feelings should things go awry. There is the story of a business professional that greeted all with “I am awesome!” Coincidentally he did this even through attempting to fight a debilitating disease. Alliances and relationships are built with people that are positive and are outgoing.
Remember the donkey from Winnie the Pooh- Eye Or? This poor donkey is about as unhappy as anything I know. Sometimes listening to him is depressing enough. This is true with human relationships. Individuals desire to be around warm, energized people. Many can feel the excitement of those around them. If you want to be a memorable networker, review your image, ensure you are excited about the event, the people and your business. People feed off positive energy, enthusiasm is fuel for networking, alliances and differentiation.
Candor is the most imperative issue in today’s business environment. Ethics is frequently discussed today. Appalling as it seems, there are numerous daily instances of those attempting to buck trends and gain momentum while not following rules. Consumers enjoy conducting business with trusting relationships.
Good listening skills
Remember a time when you were with someone either at a cocktail party or other event, and the person spoke and never came up for air? Bothered you didn’t it? Clients are engaged with professionals that can provide value by understanding needs and listening. Clients clamor for solutions not prescriptions and the best people understand the art of listening. Use techniques such as open and closed questions and pausing to truly understand how to assist.
It is better to give then to receive. Those that want to gain will give first. Similar to tithing, professionals must provide content to gain something. Think of tips, techniques and referrals that you too can provide. This technique is a great opener for building relationships since others will identify with your willingness to provide helpful information.
Avid athletes concentrate on CORE. Fundamentally this is the system upon which all musculature and symmetrical principles assist to build a nutritional body. Selling and networking exercises CORE too. One of the muscles of CORE is sincerity. Differentiation is built upon a sincere desire to build relations, become personable and assist coexisting needs. Admiration is built based on trust and willingness to assist. Dale Carnegie described this in his now famous work, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. Key exemplars: 1) Talk in terms of the other person’s interests and 2) Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.
The key to business building and success is producing things others don’t. One needs to discover methods to rise above the din and become visible. With global competition increasing and a shift in industries requiring selling professionals there exists the need to become outstanding. There is also the issue of working smarter not harder to produce required results. Refrain from tired non-functioning sales methods and begin new strategies that can escalate your rewards and make you an outstanding performer!
©2007 Drew Stevens Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright (c) 2007 Drew Stevens PhD