So did you meet someone new over the long weekend? Striking up a conversation with someone you have never met or reconnecting with someone you have met previously is pretty simple right? Now what? What do I do with this new contact or new person I connected with? Many times I have met a new person or made a new contact at a social event and felt pretty good about the connection. Many times I have thought to myself “wow, that person is really great and I would love to meet with that person again!” More often than I care to admit the relationship has ended just as fast as it has started.
It does not have to be that way! You can change this so easily! Simply call the person and let them know you enjoyed talking to them and would like to take them to lunch or coffee. You can also email new contacts or mail them a nice to meet you greeting card. Do which ever feels right but make sure you take some action to keep the relationship going! If you did not get the persons contact information it’s ok! Just call the host and let them know you really connected with someone at the party and would like to get their information. Remember you have NOTHING to lose by taking this action! NOTHING!!
Over the weekend I received a great QuoteAction that reminded me of this process and why I tend to shy away from this action. Here is the quote:
“I will guarantee you that the day you step outside your comfort zone by making success your goal is the day you discover that adversity, risk, and daring will make life sweeter then you ever imagined.”
-Mark Burnett, Founder of the Eco Challenge
Your action for today is to do something that is outside of your comfort zone.
So what do you think? Is it worth stepping out of your comfort zone to add a new relationship that might just propel your business or network to a new level?
Today I was thinking about some of my large sales successes. The high of landing a large account can really begin an unstoppable momentum in your sales journey.
I have always been in sales and marketing and have had many great highs. A large amount of my super highs have come from landing large accounts. One I often think about is Bi-Lo, a 220 store grocery chain based in South Carolina.
I remember like it was yesterday… I had been working with the buyer for over 5 months, flying back and forth from San Diego to Greenville, South Carolina too many times to count. At the time we were a relatively small entertainment distributor at about $10 million in sales and I was competing against 5 other vendors ranging in size from $100 million to just shy of $1 billion. Just who did I think I was competing against these goliath companies? Blind to anything that may have been in my way! I had lost count on how many times I had followed up via email, phone calls, letters, and notes trying to close the sale.
One of the last times I followed up I finally had the buyer on the phone. He stated it was between me and two of my largest competitors. I asked him where he was leaning and his exact response was “I don’t know Alan, it’s really a flip of a coin!”… A FLIP OF A COIN?!?! I was so taken back by that comment at first but then quickly started thinking about what I could do… OK, a flip of a coin… I can take care of that!
The following day I sent a coin Next Day Air with our company logo engraved on each side with a note that said “Here is the coin to use when you are ready !” The next week I received the call letting me know our company was awarded the contract! My consistent followup was a major factor in landing the account and I also know the coin pushed my buyer over the edge in my direction. For more creative follow up ideas check out Scott Ginsberg’s article 7 (more) Unforgettable Follow-Up Strategies.
How many times have you been presented with a challenge at some point in the sale? Are you listening for the opportunities to take that one extra step? I find a lot of times in the sales process it comes down to a few companies and the customer goes with the company that feels right… Look for those opportunities to insure you stand out amongst your competitors and realize sometimes it just comes down to a flip of a coin.
Can closing YOUR next million dollar deal really be as easy as sending a thank you card?
I was really going back on fourth on today’s post. I kept thinking I just posted about following up with greeting cards last week. This step is so important that I had to write about it. You just spent your valuable time connecting with a new referral source or possible client. Of course you know you should send a thank you card. So why do so few sales people and business professionals send them?
I decided to discuss how some of us justify skipping this step. Here are the common reasons and myths that I hear from people who skip writing thank you cards and notes:
They say things like I have poor handwriting, no time, do not know what to say, no value, and the best is cards and notes do not make any difference.
To add a little flavor and honesty to this post as well as shattering the above… No one cares how bad your handwriting is! As long as I can read it, I appreciate it! Every time I receive a note or card it makes a positive statement. Time should not be an issue! Either keep cards on hand for every occasion or use an exceptional service like SendOutCards. Don’t know what to say? Start by saying thank you for their time, mention something you talked about during your meeting, and end with something like, you are looking forward to talking or helping them in the near future. The value of a personal note or greeting card and whether or not they make a difference is very well documented.
Personally I have closed millions in sales that can be traced back to a simple follow up card. The next time you are in a competitive sales environment and win the business ask your new client why they chose you or your company. Many times I have heard “well, you were the only one to send a thank you card and that showed me you valued our business!” Thank you cards work!
Happy card sending…
I know some of you are thinking to yourself “I already met the person at the networking event, followed up with an email, and sent a greeting card!” So why should I meet with the person again? I will admit, I have had some success meeting someone at a networking event and then actually doing business with them shortly after without this step.
It seems to me professionals attending a networking event are mostly looking to meet new contacts. The hope is this new contact will either give them or lead them to new business. Is it really reasonable to think you will gain new business or a new contact that will lead you to your next big customer from a casual five minute conversation? I look at this first interaction as the first stepping stone on the path of the business relationship. The next stone on the path is meeting again in person or on the phone.
So how do you get the second meeting? Simply call your new contact and let them know you want to add them to your referral network. Learning more about their business and talking to them more about your business will lead you both to referrals. Let the new contact know the goal of this meeting is to add them to your network and in order to do that you want to know more about them.
From this meeting you will find out more about their business, who their ideal client is, their existing referral partners, and most importantly how you can refer them.
This should seem obvious but to be quite honest I am shocked at how few follow up greeting cards or hand written notes I receive. Many of our great leaders, top businesses owners, and world renowned sales trainers talk about the hand written note or greeting card. Keith Ferrazzi talks about the power of following up with a hand written note in his national bestselling book Never Eat Alone. Take a moment and think about the last 30 days… How many networking events have you attended? Is the number one, five, or possibly twenty? How many greeting cards, hand written notes, or even postcards have you received from these new contacts?
Think about this… Almost every day I am in a meeting, conference call, or just talking to another business owner and one of the following statements comes up. “Can you believe this economy? No one is buying anything!”, “My business is down, people are just not buying anymore”, “I don’t understand, my customers are not calling me.”
In a business environment where a lot of sales professionals and businesses are struggling (real or imagined) why are some having record sales? If two remodeling builders are in the same major city like New York, Los Angeles, or Dallas why is one having explosive growth while the other is closing down? Could it be the growing business is really lucky and the other is not? Could one have a stronger pool of customers or possibly amazing sales people?
Or maybe it is just a slight edge and a different mindset? Maybe they do something just a little different.. Maybe the business with explosive growth are just following up! Imagine where you or your business would be today if you consistently followed up using a simple greeting card or note…
The question you should ask is WHY NOT? Sending an email is by far the easiest, fastest, and most cost effective first follow up step you can do. Emailing your new contact within 24 hours makes you stand out from anyone else they may have met at the event. The email also shows you are committed to exploring the business relationship further. You want the email ready in advance to insure it’s sent right away. I would suggest having multiple versions ready to go depending on the types of networking you are doing. You might have one for a Chamber of Commerce Mixer, another for various seminars you may attend, and possibly a version for professionals who visit your weekly networking group such as BNI or LeTip.
The following is a few elements you may want to include in your email:
-Mention the event name in the subject, “Great Meeting You at the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce Mixer”.
-Talk about the event and how great it was meeting them in your opening line, “I really enjoyed meeting you this morning at 5 Minute Networking!
-Mention your desire to learn more about the person and their company. Your goal is to meet with the person to explore how you might help each other. Let them know you will be calling them to setup a meeting shortly.
-In closing ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn or Facebook. I personally welcome new invites as this expands my networking and referral potential.
Remember your email signature! Scott Hanselman has a great post talking about email signature etiquette in his blog. I appreciate a signature that includes the name, phone number, website, and picture. Including your picture is a valuable step in the relationship building process.
I do more networking than the average business or professional. I typically attend three or more different networking events every week. I meet all types of business professionals, owners, and sales people. And guess what makes me stand out from all the other people networking… I follow up with every single person. Here is my follow up process:
1) When you get back to your office, or within 24 hours send an email to each person you met. Keep it simple and not a sales pitch.
2) Mail each person a “nice to meet you” greeting card within 24 hours.
3) Within one week call each new contact to set up a meeting to learn more about their business and how you might help each other.
(The meeting can be in person or on the phone. The idea is for each of you to learn more about each other. 15 to 30 minutes for each person to talk is more than enough time. Make sure to add this contact into your social media platforms you use like LinkedIn or Facebook )
4) On the second week, contact the person again with a call and email if you have still not connected.
5) Mail a thank you card after the meeting within 24 hours.
6) I make it a point, after meeting with a new contact, to give them a referral within 30 days. Ideally this happens but not always.
7) Make contact again 30 days after your meeting. Remember you are building a relationship with this person that can last for years.
The key is to have a set follow up system in place for each networking event prepared in advance. In the near future I will be discussing these steps in more detail. Keep in mind whether you attend one networking event a day, or one every two months, follow these simple steps and your networking results will improve dramatically. A great place to learn more about all of the different types of networking is the National Networker blog. You will find a never ending amount of resources and information.
I have been thinking about this first entry everyday for the last two weeks. I have written it perfectly at least five times yet not one of them seemed quite right. I have felt that this was the one entry to set the entire tone for Follow Up Success. So this morning as I was anguishing over what I was going to open this blog with I had the opportunity to talk to my friend Angie Swartz who has a great new blog called Six Figure Moms Club. Angie challenged me to really look at the why behind this blog. It reminded me of why I am so passionate about business and where that passion all started.
At the young age of 10 I had my first success in business through a great program called Town. Town was a hands-on type learning experience with all the kids in our school grade. We created businesses, figured out how to make them profitable, and at the end enjoyed a great shopping spree with our earnings. This one experience has had the largest impact on my sales and business career. I have literally thought about Town at some point in every position I have held, every company I have started, and every success I have had.
I have chosen this platform and subject because as business owners and sales professionals great follow up is a huge part of our success. My goal for Follow Up Success is to have it become the source for new and fresh ideas. If you have a great follow strategy let me know so we can discuss it. If you enjoy one of the topics or have experience with one of the ideas make a comment so we can all benefit! I am looking forward to sharing the many ideas to come!