Archive for selling
Now BNI* gets a bit of a tough wrap. Yes, it’s a bit old school – some might even say ‘blokey’. Yes, it’s pretty formal and you have to play by their rules. Yes, it requires a serious time commitment. Yes, it costs a bit of cash to join.
Done properly, it can also deliver some very significant benefits to your business.
As business people, and even as consumers, we prefer to do business with people – not brands, businesses, products, etc. And we have to know, like and trust those people in order for us to usually give them our business.
I was a bit grumpy when my old group (called a chapter) closed back in February after only 7 months of membership. I even complained to the founder in the US, Ivan Misner – who to his credit – engaged in some fairly robust conversation about some of the politicking that had gone on in the closing process – as did the Australian Director.
At the time, I felt like I was losing my ‘business family’. A bunch of men and women that I’d been having breakfast with each week for 7 months. They knew me and they were getting to know what my business could do for them. And they’d started to give me referrals to other business people they knew.
It worked. Even after the group was closed down, I still continued to receive referrals to qualified leads (Ie: people who wanted to do business with me, based on the strength of their relationship with the referrer and who were more or less ready to start their projects) from my former group members.
A bit of searching was required to find a new BNI group to call home. Some groups would have been great, but the marketing seat was already occupied and other groups seemed not to ‘fit’ what I was really looking for. Maybe that’s a chic thing, but for me ‘fit’ was critical. How could I do business with people I didn’t warm to, much less had to like and trust?
I also belong to a women’s business club She Business – which is an altogether different kettle of fish. We all joined to get new business, but what we actually got from our She membership was a business education, a bunch of like-minded women – the same ones we see on a regular monthly basis and we partner with each other to hold ourselves accountable for moving ourselves and our businesses forward. In other words, we’ve developed business friends.
That’s not to say that you can’t build a business without joining a BNI group or She Business – absolutely you can and many people do. But, if you want your business building to be a bit easier and maybe even a bit more fun, find yourself a group of like-minded people who meet regularly, commit to getting to know them and be open to what happens. Be patient – the business will come.
* For those of you who’ve never heard of BNI, it’s a business networking club where only one person per profession/trade can join. Most run at breakfast time and you’re pretty much required to go once a week, bring referrals and meet up with at least one other member a week outside the breakfast meeting. Onerous maybe, but it works. My ROI has been spectacular around 20x my paid investment in my first 9 months (and many of those clients have become ongoing clients).
Kristin Austin is a marketing & communication strategist and trainer who’s been doing the marketing ‘do’ for almost 20 years. She loves creating content and campaigns that drive engagement (using WIIFM) and capturing customers for her really lovely clients. She can be found hanging out in social media-land – for her clients’ benefit of course when she’s not working on client campaigns, strategy or writing them content. You can follow her @glitteratichic or connect on LinkedIn. If you’re not on social media and still want to connect - she’s happy to talk marketing and business boosting over coffee.
What’s the difference between a chat and a sales call? Read on.
Business owner A goes to see a new customer. He starts with the polite chit-chat, then moves into his sales pitch, asking the right questions as he goes, the customer makes a couple of buying signals – the sales person is excited, wraps up his presentation with his key points, thanks the customer for their time and is gone. He all but ran out of the building. At some point he’ll send details or call or something – maybe in a few days.
Business Owner B (we’ll call him BOB) also goes to see that same customer the same day. Chit-chat, pitch, questions, buying signals, preso wrap-up and then….he remembers why he’s here. To sell something! BOB knows the best time to get agreement on next steps is right then and there. “So Mr Customer, I’ll send you a proposal (code for something you, Mr Customer, can buy) for your new thermo-discombobulator tomorrow afternoon and I’ll give you a call/drop in, etc on Thursday to see if you’ve got any questions. Is that okay?”
Now the customer is clear he’ll receive a proposal and be followed up by phone/in person. In fact, he’ll be expecting it. All BOB needs to do is follow through.
All things being equal, BOB is more likely to get the sale – he’s set the process up correctly. That’s not to say things don’t go wrong, people might not like what you’re selling, etc – but wouldn’t you rather know that before you leave? Unless you ask, you’ll never know.
So many times, the person doing the selling forgets to outline the next steps and ask for permission to continue the process.
Once some execs and I made it all the way out the client’s door to the cab, after having flown in for a meeting and my companions were settling themselves to get in the cab. They’d come, they’d chatted, they’d left a power point presentation to read – they were done.
At that point I had to step in and ask the CEO if he was happy with what we’d presented and could we follow up with a more fleshed out proposal and some tighter numbers. He looked positively relieved. He later thanked me for asking the question. He said he wasn’t quite sure what would have happened as he’d left for Europe a couple of days later and was away for a month and wouldn’t have really remembered the details of the conversation when he got back.
We won the business on that occasion – but what would have happened had we made it into the cab without asking and our competitor asked the question we hadn’t. Imagine how disappointed the sales team would have been had he not returned their follow-up calls (not knowing he was on leave).
So next time you’re on a sales call – be a BOB – by all means chat, but ask the question that will propel you forward on the path of new business or, if it’s not meant to be with that customer, at least let them release you for your next one.