Networking….the Art of Relationship Building

March 2, 2015 by  

  • Do you ever feel that the “networking event rules” ought to be posted at the door of every networking venue?
    • How many times have you come home with a pocketful of business cards and not known what to do with them?
    • Are you annoyed when you start receiving someone’s newsletter and you hardly remember who they are?
    • Don’t you just hate it when someone you just met tries to “sell” you something?

If these have been your experiences with networking let me offer you some tips.
1. Networking events are great opportunities to meet new people and catch up with those we know. We have about 90 seconds to give a new person a quick idea of who we are and what we do. Once we have exchanged business cards we can decide if this is someone we want to know more about….or not. If yes, make sure you follow up either that same day or within the next day or so….so they will remember who you are. And remember: This is not the time to be selling anything!!  Be complimentary, ask them about themselves and their business.  They will remember you if you are interested and listen to them!

2. Once a meeting has been arranged we will now have the chance to learn more about who they are and what they do and vice versa. Following this exchange we can decide if we might be making a new friend, if they may have need of our product or services, if we might be interested in their services or products or if there is an opportunity for some sort of collaboration. This might also be the time to see if sharing newsletters or blog sites etc. would be appropriate. Now a relationship can begin and grow from this exploratory meeting, or not.

3. With regard to the cards collected…… I use the two pocket filing system at such events….the cards I plan on following up with , go into my right hand pocket, the others, in the left. I review those choices when I get home, sometimes moving cards from one pile to the other and then actually discard those I have not chosen to pursue. The ones I wish to follow up on, I either call or send an email that night or the next day. If anyone from the discarded group contacts me, I will generally give them a “second chance” since they made an effort to follow up with me.  Devise a system that works for you because if you are not doing the follow up why are you going to networking events?

4. Finally, remember to have fun….this is what your business should be about….enjoying yourself. As Michael Gerber says, “we should be working on our business, not in our business.” Networking is part of working on our business as it helps us to set up strategic alliances, build a valuable network of contacts and familiarize ourselves with the business community.

Happy Networking!!

6 Tips to Closing a Sale

February 25, 2014 by  

One must remember that sales are not about you meeting targets or even precisely about your product or service per se. Rather, they are about gaining trust, respect and rapport with your prospect so that you can determine their specific needs. If you espouse the strategies outlined below you can expect to achieve more success in increasing your sales.

1. Do your homework!
Before you even make the call, spend some time researching the company or individual you are about to contact. It is not necessary to spend countless hours on this, simply find out enough so that you can speak intelligently about their possible issues.
2. Be punctual!
Never be late! If you say you will call someone at 11:00am, make sure you do so. Allow plenty of time for travel for face-to-face meetings with a prospect because you never know what you might find on the roads that could delay your arrival. Those Key Decision Makers are too busy to wait so be on time, it is a small thing but very important. In addition, be sure to reconfirm the meeting length as decided. Better to take less time with your discussion interview, then run over, which will also not make that busy person very happy.
3. Get to the point!
Don’t waste a lot of time on small talk or idle chit-chat unless your prospect initiates this type of conversation. Rather, get right to the reason for the meeting. Your prospect will respect you for your direct approach and it will do much to help you stand out from the competition. It also takes less time!
4. Recap!
Before you make your sales presentation, recap your understanding of the prospect’s situation, problems or concerns. By offering this short summarization of what you have learned, you clearly demonstrate that you have listened well to their issues. This will engage them, show respect and build rapport. In addition, it gives you the opportunity to modify the presentation if the prospect’s situation has changed since your last exchange.
5. Focus on them!
Remember this is NOT about you or your company; rather it is how your services or products are going to make their business more efficient, productive and successful. In other words, how you can solve their current problem or concerns. If they want more information about your company, client list, how long you have been in business or anything else, they will ask. So if you make sure their issues are the focus of your presentation, you will be more likely to make the sale.
6. Don’t overstay your welcome!
Make a concerted effort to keep to the allotted time frame for your meeting because most of the decision makers have very tight schedules and if you run late, you will be disrupting their already jam packed agenda. Again, if you can conduct your business in less than the allotted time you will impress your prospect and perhaps even provide them with a much appreciated break in their busy day. In addition, this consideration for their time will set you apart from other salespeople and once more enhance your chances for a successful outcome and the sale!

These six tips are imperative in building the trust, respect and rapport so necessary in developing and maintaining good business relationship with our customers. We still do business with those we trust; so practice these elements and you will surely make more sales!