Making Life SWEETER than you Ever Imagined

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?

Landing the next BIG client: Just a Flip of the Coin?

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.

Savoring the Investment IN a Relationship

This morning I was up very early and decided I wanted a cup of coffee. My first thought was to take a quick shower, grab my laptop, and head over to my local Starbucks. As I was getting out of bed I realized I wanted something different… I really just wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee outside in the cool morning air. Some of you reading this may know I am a goal oriented, multi tasking, crazy scheduled, always going in multiple directions type of person so getting ready and starting my day running is pretty normal for me.

Something about this morning, at this moment was a bit different… I was looking for a different approach or a different experience this morning. It hit me… where is that French Press that I used to love making coffee with? As I entered my kitchen in search for my lost press I started to remember why I love it! Boiling the water, grinding the coffee, pouring the hot water over the coffee, letting it sit for a few minutes, finally pressing the plunger down to pour my perfect cup of coffee. Sitting outside I realized why I love this process so much.

So what the heck does this have to do with followup and why would I post my morning coffee experience here? Well as I was sipping my coffee listening to the morning sounds I realized how the process of my morning cup of coffee is very similar to the process of followup. It’s not always about the quick cup of coffee or the quick meeting of a new prospect. It’s about the process! When I take the time to really get to know a person, learning about them and their business, I get to enjoy the result.

Following up and building relationships is just like making the perfect cup of coffee. When we take the time and go through the entire process we can enjoy the result.

Tomorrow is the start to a brand new week. I might just start with another perfect cup of coffee.

The Thank You Card: Personal Nicety, Business Necessity? or Both?

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…

“THE MEETING” What to say and is it worth it?

So you have set a meeting for an upcoming future date! Now what? I have these types of meetings almost every day. I have found the best agenda for this meeting is similar to an interview process. Here is my basic agenda for these meetings:

Review your notes on the new contact and their website before calling. When you call the contact remind them of the reason and goal for the meeting. Make sure you are really listening and take notes! If possible you want to engage the other person first by probing them about their business.

Start by asking them to talk a little about their business. (3 minutes)

When the contact has finished or the 3 minutes has passed ask the following question:

Can you give me an example of your ideal client or customer?

I find most small business owners or solopreneurs have a hard time answering this question. Sometimes you may have to help them out by sharing your ideal client. For example: My ideal client is a small business owner, solopreneur, or sales professional that wants to attract more clients and generate more referrals. They typically know the value of following up but often say they never get around to it, don’t have the time, or don’t have any kind of system to make it easy.

Explain to me your biggest challenge in your business.

This could present an opportunity for you to help with this challenge or possibly you have someone in your network that can help or shed a different light on this challenge.

Who is your best referral partners?

Possible referral partners for an Estate Planning Attorney could be a Financial Planner, Real Estate Agent, Lender, or CPA . Sometimes you may have referrals for a new contacts best referral partner before having a customer referral for them.

What makes you or your company different from your competitors?

Some companies will have a highly competitive edge in a marketplace and they know it. A lot of times an insurance agent knows they are the most cost effective for certain industries and if you know this information it makes it very easy to refer them.

Are you on facebook or Linkedin?

I will talk more about facebook and Linkedin in future posts. If you are not on facebook or Linkedin you can visit my profile to learn more.

Is there anything more you would like to tell me about you or your company that might help me give you referrals?

This is an ending question which will allow you to start your part of the meeting.

At this point you want to basically go over these same questions with your new contact so they learn more about you and how they might be able to help grow your business. This process can last 30 minutes to one hour depending on the answers. Make sure to find out at the start of the meeting how much time you have to insure you both get the most value. Speaking of value, do you see how this second meeting can be a huge part of your follow up? Let me know if you have a question to add or if this post was helpful by adding a comment!

I have to talk to the person again!

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.

7 Steps to Follow Up Success

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.

Follow Up Success?

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!