During the summer, I wrote a column on cold calling and how it tends to be ineffective.
I got lots of e-mails in response. Most said something like this: “OK, Greta, I agree that cold-calling doesn’t work that well. So what should I do instead?”
Here are some things I recommend:
•Network. Today, networking is the most powerful way to build your business. Though most salespeople are aware of that, they are typically unsuccessful at really making it work.
But few people have ever really been taught how to network properly, so it has not been as effective as it should be. Therefore, the default is back to cold calling.
So how do you network properly? First, set a goal. Set a goal before you even attend a function, whether it is an actual networking event or a civic committee meeting you attend.
An example of a goal could be, “I will find three people who are in the financial-services industry.” Or “I will meet John Jones from ABC Company.”
•Build strategic alliances. You can form a strategic alliance with someone who has a product or service that’s complementary to yours (a financial planner and a CPA, a printer and a graphic designer, a real estate broker and a title company), or someone who has the ear of an individual who would be a good prospect for you (a salesperson who sells law books to attorneys and a document-storage company specializing in the legal sector).
Such alliances enable you to share who you would like to be introduced to in the community and for your strategic partner to do the same.
•Get referrals from existing clients. There are two reasons why we don’t get more referrals:
1. We don’t ask.
2. We don’t ask properly.
Understanding reason No. 2 will make the difference in getting more referrals.
Asking properly means being specific. What typically happens is we get brave enough to ask for a referral, and we say something like, “Now that you have used our widgets for some time and are happy with them, do you know anyone else who you think could use them?”
Are you kidding? In that case, you are expecting your clients to think for you.
So be specific. You need to ask to meet a particular person in a particular organization.
Or you can use a trigger. A trigger is something your client can listen for to give you a referral.
If I know someone is a golfer, I will say something like, “The next time you and your golf partners are at the 19th hole and the conversation shifts to business and someone says, ‘I am really worried about our sales for the fourth quarter,’ that is a good referral for me.”
It creates a picture of something your strategic partner might see or hear, and will trigger your partner to think of you.
These approaches require work, and they won’t necessarily produce results overnight. But they are the most effective ways of building your business.
That is, unless you still choose cold calling.
Greta Schulz is the owner of Schulz Business and a keynote business speaker. To receive her free newsletter please e-mail greta@schulztraining.
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