Are You A Multitasking Follow Up Extremist?

In an effort to follow up with new contacts and customer requests I often find myself multitasking, I am sure you can relate! Managing multiple projects and tasks is not new to me by any means. As a Sales Professional either in a corporate environment or as a business owner multitasking becomes an art! I find myself always exploring new ways to get more things done!  I tend to create new habits to squeeze just a few more minutes from my day. As with all new habits and processes we create to achieve more, sometimes it’s good to reflect on the cost these new patterns have.

Yesterday I found myself driving down the road talking on my cell phone, answering a text, switching to my email to respond to a request and just for good measure checking in on Twitter! All of this reminded me of a recent email forwarded to me from Harvard Business Publishing regarding texting while driving!

Is texting while driving really worse than driving under the influence?

A recent study by the RAC Foundation based in London found the average reaction times slowed by 35% while writing or reading texts!  Compare this to the 21% slower reaction from those who had taken cannabis and 12% slower among those who had drunk to the legal limit! A January 2007 survey by U.S.-based Nationwide Insurance suggested 19 per cent of motorists said they texted while driving.  I am sure among my network of friends and colleagues this number would increase to well over 50%!  Are you thinking to yourself…  “this is great but I am an amazing multi-tasker!”? Look at this video of Richard Westcott testing the effects of texting while driving using a simulator.

Take a moment and really think about the urge to read or respond to a text while driving.  Is it really worth the cost?  Can it wait until you arrive at your next destination?  I am all about great follow up and have definitely been known to be an extremist but even I am rethinking some of my habits in regards to multitasking.  Having reviewed the study, I think about a few close calls I have had over the last year while driving on the phone and texting, reading emails, and checking twitter.  For you this might be checking the news, sports, stock market, or the weather.  Whichever other activity you are choosing while driving, hopefully this post will allow you to reevaluate the possible cost!

Take a moment and really think about the urge to read or respond to a text while driving.  Is it really worth the cost?  Can it wait until you arrive at your next destination?  I am all about great follow up and have definitely been known to be an extremist but even I am rethinking some of my habits in regards to multitasking.  Having reviewed the study, I think about a few close calls I have had over the last year while driving on the phone and texting, reading emails, and checking twitter.  For you this might be checking the news, sports, stock market, or the weather.  Whichever other activity you are choosing while driving, hopefully this post will allow you to reevaluate the possible cost!

Successful Networking: Mastering YOUR 60 Second Commercial

Yesterday I visited a Business Networking International (BNI) group in Del Mar. BNI is a group of business professionals who meet weekly to exchange business referrals. I was asked to come and fill in for one of their members Rick Itzkowich owner of Productive Learning and Leisure and writer for the Xtraordinary Living Blog. BNI requests members to have a substitute when they are not able to attend the meeting.

It was a lively group at 6:45 a.m. and they were very welcoming. As the meeting progressed we arrived to the presentation portion. BNI typically has a few members speak more in depth about their business and the type of referrals they are looking for. At this meeting Riley Cardwell, a business coach and BNI Director for San Diego was attending so the leadership skipped the member presentations. Riley did however do an amazing presentation on creating your successful Sales Manager Minute (SMM), or what to say when you are at a networking event in 30 to 60 seconds. Here is what Riley discussed:

 

Part 1

Your Name

Your Company Name

What you do

 

Part 2

Briefly describe ONE of the products/services you offer

BNI calls this your LCD or Lowest Common Denominator. What you want to do is break down your service or product into its most basic from (LCD).

A plumber might talk about replacing old piping in the house, a financial planner could discus the value of an IRA, Real Estate Agents may talk about how they work with first time home buyers.

 

Part 3

What will your product or service do for the referral you’re looking for? Why do they buy this from you?

What you really want to describe here is the benefit of your product or service. Telling a brief story is often very helpful. Riley asked a few of the BNI members what their benefits were.

  • Suzanne Rhodes with Proforma Pepper Promotions offered employee retention as a benefit.
  • Bob Johnson with Coronado Catering talked about the joy of experiencing your party by allowing Coronado Catering to handle all the work.

 

Part 4

Do the Ask!: “The referral/introduction I’m looking for today is…” What to look for (WTLF); be extra-specific.

Tell your sales force what action to take for you. Give them a “conversation starter” What to say for you (WTS).

The idea here is to ask for the contact at a specific company you are trying to meet or when someone is at a party with friends you want them to know what to listen for which may lead to the referral.

  • Cal Campbell owner of Cal’s Plumbing, Inc. said to listen for people complaining about lack of hot water.
  • Gretchen Seitz, L.Ac. owner of Seitz Acupuncture told the group to listen for people who are suffering from migraines.
  • Dr. Rhonda Lilien a Chiropractor with La Jolla Integrative Health asked the group to look for people who had difficulty turning their head.
  • John Naviaux, Registered Investment Advisor Representative with Western Financial Advisors offered the group a (WTS), “I know a financial advisor that has access to a lot of investment options”.

 

Part 5

Your Name

Your Company Name

“And Remember… (memory hook)

A memory hook is something you say at the end of your SMM that helps people remember who you are. Most times these are catchy phrases that relate to what you do. Here are some examples:

  • Promotional Products: If you want them to remember you, then remember me!
  • Plumber: If your pipes don’t flow you know where to go
  • Caterer: Little or small we cater them all
  • Chiropractor: When your spine s in line, you will feel fine!
  • Financial Planner: Doctors save lives, I save lifestyles

Why not take a moment and review your 60 second commercial to insure you are covering all these parts. A successful Sales Manager Minute or 60 second commercial can easily double your referrals in your networking group. This process will increase the number of referrals you are receiving as well as make your networking group far more dynamic.

You Already Have Your NEXT New Customer!

What is the value of our current customers? In sales it seems we are always striving to get the next customer… So much of our time and effort is spent towards new customers. As sales professionals we do many things to get the next customer or client. Our sales cycle could be hours, days, months, or even years. All of this work just to get the next new customer.

And then it happens! We win the next contract, get the new client, win over our newest customer. Depending on what you are selling you may or may not have some role with this new customer , possibly in training, roll out, or just insuring the sale is complete. At some point our new sale is finished. You are done, the sale is final, and hopefully you have been paid, only to move on to do the cycle all over again. Spend all that time and energy to get the next new customer again.

So that’s it! Let’s move on to the next customer! Right? Wrong! Who is more important to follow up with? New leads, old leads, or existing customers? Existing customers! Don’t get me wrong, you always need to have a constant flow of new customers. My point is the customers you already have are a great resource for new ones! John Jantsch from Duct Tape Marketing talks about this in his article What’s Your Referral Number? John suggests creating a percentage baseline for the number of clients referring business to you. Finding this number will allow you to improve on your processes so you can achieve the maximum referrals from your clients. Following up with your current customers will not only help you with your customer retention, it will also lead you to new customers. Why not start tomorrow by calling 10 customers you have not spoken to in the last 30 days. Just check in with them and see how they are doing. Make sure they are happy with your product or service. Ask them if you can do anything for them. It shows great customer service and you might just receive a referral to your next new client!

Remember the time you focus on your current customers will allow you to attract new clients with ease. Sometimes the all alluring next new client is right in front of you! All you need to do if followup, stay engaged, and build on the relationship you have already created.

Twitter: Engaging Participants at Your Next Workshop or Seminar

I am relatively new to Twitter having just set up my account a few months ago. I started using it in conjunction with my Facebook account for status updates. I remember thinking what could I possibly do with a micro blog where I can only post 140 characters? It seemed like I was using two social media platforms for no good reason but I was committed to search out the value of Twitter! Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send and read other users updates (otherwise known as tweets), which are text-based posts of up to 140 character in length. You can find out more about Twitter on Wikipedia.

The value of Twitter seemed to really present itself when I arrived at Blog World Expo. Twitter was used heavily throughout the entire conference. The organizers of Blog World created a hash code (an event code) and instructed everyone to label their micro-blogging with #bwe08 when twitting about Blog World. This was an ingenious way to keep everyone at the conference informed about schedule changes, social events, lunch, event details, and even real time class participation. (Not to mention a great marketing tool for the following year’s conference because not only could this year’s participants read the twits, but anyone on Twitter around the world could also participate. Talk about wetting someone’s appetite for future conferences. People from all over the country and world were weighing in and asking questions about sessions they couldn’t attend and didn’t pay for. How cool is that?)

So how did this make such a big difference? With everyone micro blogging using the #bwe08 you were able to search Twitter and bring up all the posts regarding Blog World. This gave me a running feed from people attending the workshop I was in as well as the many other workshops I could not make. It was like I was attending multiple workshops at the same time. On top of that most of the workshops had the feed up on the screen or created a new hash code for the workshop we were in like #cred.

As the expo continued the twitting evolved to an entire new level. Attendees started adding value to each workshop with comments, questions, and posting links to sites being discussed. The speakers and panelists of each workshop were reviewing the tweets as they showed up on the screens during the discussion. Many speakers would answer the questions real time and go into more detail based on what they were seeing.

Additionally, I can now go back and search these twits and use them as notes to remember what I learned in each session.

The end result was an amazing interaction at each workshop. A truly enlightening experience for me on how new media can make a big difference. I can’t wait for the next workshop or seminar I attend where the organizers are using twitter to interact with the participants.

I have discovered many additional uses for Twitter, future topics will include:

  • Using Twitter to enhance the customer experience
  • Large companies using Twitter to connect with their customers
  • Following up with new contacts on Twitter

How are you using Twitter? Are you or your company using Twitter to interact with clients or prospects? Become part of the conversation and add a comment on your experience with Twitter.

Tradeshows Like Blog World Expo Create Connection Explosions

I just attended The Blog World Expo in Las Vegas. My expectations were very mixed. I really had no idea what I was getting into. My goal was to meet new people, successful bloggers, and to learn how to make Follow Up Success the go-to resource for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals.

The Expo far exceeded my expectations. I attended some amazing breakout sessions with all types of bloggers both on the panel and in the audience. I had great discussions with bloggers, companies that support bloggers, and people of all levels in the blogosphere. For example, I met people I never imagined would be there like:

A good friend of mine and fellow blogger asked me today how I was going to follow up with all the people I met. (Is she joking? Does she not read my blog?) So how am I going to follow up with all these new contacts? To start, I am going to do what I have talked about in this blog 7 Steps to Follow Up Success of course! Everyone will be getting an email from me today letting them know how much I appreciated meeting them. I will also add the social platforms I use to stay connected to people in my network; LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Over the next few weeks I will be calling these contacts to learn more about them and explore ways I might be able to help them.

I am still digesting all the great information from Blog World and already know this experience has made a huge impact on me. I’ll be writing about this more in the future but for now, here are just a few of the highlights that really stick out:

  • New Media – Now’s the time to ride the wave and implement new tools…you can be a pioneer, opportunities are endless.
  • Twitter – The powerful use of a new tool…ruling the top trended topics, what could this mean for your business?
  • How companies like Comcast are using social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to expand the customer experience and add a new layer to customer service.
  • CNN and Twitter – CNN is using Twitter to pull in live questions and engage their viewers. How can you use this strategy in your business to engage your customers?
  • Are bloggers just crazy people with too much time on their hands? I will admit this may have been somewhere in the back of my head before attending the expo. Now I realize they are a group of professionals, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and writers. With that in mind how can you use blogging to support your business and follow up activities?

The blog world has a space for you too!  Reading blogs, making comments on posts, or starting your own blog are great action steps to enhance your business success!   If you would like a taste of what it was like at Blog World Expo check out Ryan Hupfer’s great post and video, It’s All About The Connections: Thoughts, Highlights, And Lessons Learned From Blog World Expo 08.  Lastly, consider attending Blog World Expo 09 or BlogHer in San Francisco next year.  Both conferences get rave reviews.   They are well worth the reasonable registration fees…which by the way are discounted if you twitter.  The expo was a rich experience for me and I enjoyed it so much I might just offer to speak myself next year.  We’ll see.

I Threw Away All the Business Cards on my Desk: Now What?

I had a few people who made the comment, “OK, I have thrown all the business cards away that were on my desk, now what do I do?” or “Now that all my cards are in the trash, where do I get more leads?” Another comment came from an associate of mine, “I did what you said and threw all my business cards away!”. I of course reminded him that this is not what I said at all. Thinking about it now I realize this may not have been such a bad idea for him… I have been in his office a few times and I know half the cards on his desk are over a year old! What if anything can business cards which you have had on your desk for over one year, most likely not followed up on at all, do for you now?

Ideally we have all removed our business card collection from our desk or at the very least are working through the stack by calling, making connections, adding them to our data base and slowly throwing those business cards away. I know this week I had some great conversations and reacquainted myself with those people behind the business cards! In fact right now I am skipping the first day at Blog World Expo just to catch up on calls. I have been regretting this decision at times today but the reality is following up with contacts is more important to me.

You are not alone if you threw away all of the business cards on your desk! Many people realize the cards on their desk were just too old to follow up on. The next step is to change how you follow up with them in the future! In my previous post, 7 Steps to Follow Up Success, I discussed my approach to following up with new contacts I meet at networking events, chamber mixers, trade shows, and expos. I also just read another great article by C.J. Hayden in the Entrepreneurs Blog section of About.com titled A Pocket Full of Business Cards. C.J. offers another perspective on following up with new contacts.

My challenge to you is to attend a networking event this week, collect new business cards, and implement the 7 Steps to Follow Up Success with them. Just don’t start another business card collection!

Why are you collecting business cards on your desk?

Today I was sitting at my desk scouring the internet looking for the allusive driver for my laptop which I had just wiped and reloaded with Windows XP.  Between what seemed to be hundreds of downloads trying one driver after another I was frightened by a small stack of business cards which seemed to be accumulating on my desk.

You know that stack of business cards that seems to grow and grow by your stapler, next to your pen cup, at the corner of your desk, or possibly a neatly 3 inch stack under your monitor…  Depending on your networking and social activities you can easily add another inch to your stack every month!  If you are anything like I used to be, this stack moves into some type of container or drawer.  Eventually all these business cards will end up in a box to be saved forever or at least until you find the box and realize you have business cards from people you met one time at a networking event three years ago whom you have never contacted.   Unless of course you have some strange desire to sell them on ebay 20 years from now there is no point in this.

Don’t worry you can save yourself from this tragedy!  How do you do it?  First look at the cards on your desk.  Is there 25, 50, or 250 business cards?  Using 50 for an example quickly look at each one and decide if this is someone you would like to connect with to explore a more meaningful relationship.  Once this is completed pick up the phone and explain to the contact your new found mission!  At this point you might be thinking to yourself mission, what mission?  The mission is to not collect business cards, keep them on your desk for months, and then finally years later throw them away.  Why not call them and say something like “Hi Alan, we met last month and a networking event and I have decided to take a new approach on the business cards I collect.  What I would like to know is how I might help you in your business?”  Or you can say something like I discussed in my previous post “I have to talk to the person again?”.

Imagine what you can create by simply engaging the people whom you have collected all these cards!  Jordan Adler, a networking master and expert in collecting business cards talks about the value of one business card in his recent book Beach Money.  Jordan Adler discusses how he turns one little square piece of paper into thousands of dollars.  How much business could you expect from one lifetime customer?  The answer will depend on your type of business.  In the book he asked a group this same question and the answers ranged from $2,000 to $300,000.  Jordan believes when he collects 100 business cards it is his job is to turn some of them into lifelong customers.  Each time he takes action the chances of one or more of those business card contacts turning into lifelong a customer increases.  Examples of actions to take are making a quick phone call, sending a greeting card, buying each person lunch, sending a gift, sending the contact business, staying in touch, and with some contacts doing all of these things.  So what is the lifetime value of YOUR customer?  Jordan does not look at a business card as just a card.  He looks at them like $100 and $1,000 bills.  Would you ignore $100 bills stacked up 3 inches high on your desk? 

Simply commit to call 3 or 4 of these cards each day until the stack is gone.  Once you have made this connection add these people into some kind of database.  You can use Outlook, ACT!, GoldMine, salesforce.com, or even index cards.  The database you choose is not important.  What is important is that you take notes on what you talked about and add them to your database for future reference, referrals, or business opportunities.  Once these cards are in your database THROW THEM AWAY or GIVE THEM AWAY!  Just don’t leave them sitting on your desk.

Please… Stop Going to Networking Events!

Last week I spent a day making my fourth contact with people I met at a networking event the previous month. It was a great event filled with what seemed to be highly motivated professionals who truly wanted to grow their business and referrals. The strange thing is 90% of the people have yet to make a single contact with me. Should I take this personally? Maybe I present myself in a bad way or don’t say the right things. Could it be that most people simply don’t followup after a networking event? The question that comes to mind is why would you go to a networking event, meet 20 new contacts, and not followup? What is the point of that?

It reminds me of a conversation I had recently with Bob Civello owner of Smarter Small Business. I met Bob at the same networking event I was following up on from last month. He made an off handed remark at a later meeting about the lack of any followup after networking events. Bob estimated in the last two years he has attended over 50 business expos, tradeshows, and networking events. Bob has shook hands with over 2,000 people at these events. With that many people I would think at least half of them did some kind of followup. I mean how hard is it to followup with an email or a phone call?  I outlined my followup process in my post 7 Steps to Follow Up Success.

Sadly the rest of the story is only 14 people did any kind of followup. 14 out of 2,000! If you are one of the 1,986 people my hope is you are reading this! The part to really think about here is at this point Robert has so much value on followup that he is very open to meeting with anyone who engages him after the event. He knows if a new contact actually follows up they are well worth adding to his network. Imagine how easy it would be to stand out to Robert… Simply picking up the phone or sending an email would give you the opportunity to connect, make a true new contact, and create a new referral source.

I think most businesses and sales professionals want to stand out from their competition. It seems with Roberts experience it could be as simple as just picking up the phone and reconnecting.

Making New Contacts: 1 contact or 250?

Yesterday I talked about the value of networking and how it can be so much more than just business, contacts, and referrals. Each day you are given the opportunity to meet and connect with new people. Last night as my friend and I walked into his surprise 50th birthday party I had a great feeling. How cool was it for him to stroll into what he thought was going to be a small gathering of people and to his surprise see 100 of his closest friends, clients, and family.  It was a great time full of laughs, food, and of course cake! Throughout the evening more people seemed to be stopping in. I knew a few of these people but many I did not. Everyone knew my friend, everyone knew, liked, and trusted him. Seeing all these people celebrating in my friend’s birthday reminded of the Law of 250.

What is the law of 250? The law of 250 has been talked about my many of the best marketers including Joe Girard. Girard is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Greatest Salesman. World’s Greatest Salesman, there has got to be something to be learned from him! Girard sold more cars than 95% of all the dealerships in North America. He did this not just for one year but for 10 plus years! How did Joe do it? Girard believed in the law of 250 and knew if he could get everybody he made contact with to refer him into their network of friends, family, and colleagues that he could multiply his marketing efforts by 250. Michael McLaughlin the coauthor of Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants, trusted advice on successful consulting from the authors of the bestselling Guerrilla Marketing series goes in more depth on the law of 250 in his Guerrilla Consulting blog.

Everyone one of us have close friends in our life. If it was your 50th birthday who would you invite to attend? Who would you want to celebrate with? These are the people who are in your network of 250. These are the people that know, like, and trust you. You have a choice with each new person you meet; you can count them as one or invest in the relationship and tap into 250.

Networking: New Clients, Prospects, Referrals, and Lifelong Friends

Friday night I spent some time at a good friend’s house. My friend is turning 50 today and I have been tasked with keeping him out of the house while his wife gets things ready for a small gathering of friends. Still not sure what I am going to do for three hours but I am confident we can figure out something!

This morning I was thinking about where this friendship started. We first met through a networking group called LeTip. Each week we saw each other for a few hours and then would go on to the rest of our day. Early on we chatted and he let me know someone he knew represented my company and if he decided to use my service he would use them. I mention this because I really had written this person off in regards to networking. I was still nice, talked to him, and looked for ways to refer him, but I had zero expectations of ever receiving referrals or business from him.

Networking for me is not about what I can get from someone, it is about what I can give. Each time you give someone a referral, help someone through a business challenge, or connect two contacts together without expecting anything in return you are giving. Ivan Misner the founder of BNI often talks about this with his givers gain philosophy. The theory here is if you are always looking for ways to support your network then in turn your network will support you with business, contacts, and referrals. Ivan also talks about this in his new book The 29% Solution, 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies in week 5 and has a recent article about the book on his Networking Now blog on entrepreneur.com.

I really live this givers gain philosophy in all areas of my life. So many examples of wonderful things coming to me when I have least expected it. One of them is the lifelong friend who I have the pleasure in celebrating his life and birthday today.