An Approach to Success

I am convinced that most of us understand our business and our value proposition well enough that if given the chance we can attract customers when given an opportunity to present. The challenge is that buyers are getting hundreds of calls a week and hundreds of messages a week trying to sell them something. Additionally, they are busy trying to manage their business. So how do we engage them in a conversation that may uncover an opportunity? It is all in the approach.

There are essentially two ways to approach a buyer. We can be passive and use advertising, a website, or maybe buy some keywords in hopes that they will come. On the other hand, we can take a more active role in networking, building relationships and, yes, perhaps even cold calling.

I read a study earlier this year by McCord Training; it said that 39% of those surveyed reported making a purchase from someone they had never done business with before, as a result, of a meeting, where they met at a conference or event. The result for a cold call was less than 4%. This would seem to indicate that Networking has a higher probability for success.

Many hate networking events. Some liken them to “Drive-bys”. You know the event people are running around the room handing you their card or brochure and telling you what they do for business and how they, can help you. Or, there are those “leads” clubs where everyone gets to stand up and tell you what they do and how they can help. They get their 120 seconds of fame. What do you think others are thinking when you are giving the 2-minute elevator pitch? They are thinking about what they are going to say.

You can be different and it involves being Generous and the Law of Reciprocity. The next time you go to a Chamber event, or other networking event, Don’t Sell. That does not mean you are there just to socialize, we are here to develop business after all. However, make it your goal to develop relationships that may turn into opportunities or perhaps may lead to new relationships.

I recently went to a luncheon, where I sat with someone I did not know. Turns out, she was a manager with an organization I had been trying to crack. We spent some time getting to know each other and when her colleague sat down (The buyer I had been trying to reach), she introduced me, and explained what my company did and actually asked if they should consider looking into our services! That is a pretty valuable introduction.

Here is how you can do it:

1.    Ask questions. Dale Carnegie said it years ago, “The sweetest sound is our own name.” People that are considered great at conversation are great questioners. Some questions to get started:
a.    What brings you here?
b.    How long have you been in the business?
c.    How did you start that?
d.    What do you like about that?
e.    What problems does that present?
f.    What does a good customer look like to you?
g.    How can I help you?

If we ask, enough questions about them and their business, if we are generous with our attention and good will, the Law of Reciprocity kicks in and they will ask you “What do you do?” Now you are not selling – you are answering a question!

2.    Connect others – Often I meet people at networking events that cannot use my services. But, they mention a need, which I know a colleague can fill. Make that introduction and connection. Be generous with your resources. The result is, again, that Law of Reciprocity. People like to help people that have helped them. I have found that, when I connect people, they in turn will connect me.
If you can implement these two strategies, you will find that your opportunities to present your solutions will go up.

–    Networking to build relationships
–    Becoming a connector

What is your best networking question?

One Comment:

  1. Hi John,

    As always, and excellent article with outstanding content. I’m one of those people who hate networking events. It’s not that I don’t like people, but I feel like I’m walking around with a big target on my chest. Everyone pushes their business card at me, tells me about their wonderful product or service and then rushes off as quickly as possible looking for another prospect. I find these events exhausting and avoid them like the plague.

    Your method of engaging and making a friend, or seeing who you can help can breathe fresh life into an event.

    Another technique is to “be the connector” at the event. Meet people and then introduce them to each other. Again, the focus in not on selling but helping others and making serious connections.

    The one thing I would add to your article is this: Be selective about where you network and who you network with. I’m not talking about being a snob, but about getting the maximum ROI for your time by attending events with a high level of potential clients for your business. In other words, if you are selling a product intended for school teachers, don’t network at the chamber of commerce, or at a Real Estate convention. Network at the places that your clients will likely be and you have a much better probability of success.

    Keep up the great work!


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