In sales, it’s all about the connections you make, the relationships you build and the value that you add. Quite often, the tag that people put on that is, “Networking“. But, why do so many people make the connections and then neglect to build the relationship or add the value?
Just because you’ve met someone, that does not equate to them reaching out to do business with you. You’ve got to put the work in and that can take many forms. Have you bothered to find out what your new connection does for a living? Can you refer him/her to someone? Do you share common interests and can you recommend a club, restaurant, retail store that caters to that interest? In other words, are you building and bringing value to the relationship? If not, then don’t expect to benefit from a simple introduction.
I believe that your marketing efforts should follow the same format. Just because you’re touching a prospect through an eblast, newsletter, phone call or direct mailing does not mean they will repay you with their business. What value are you adding and how are you building the business relationship?
Have you taken the time to understand the business of your prospect? Do you know the issues their industry is facing? Have you discovered their unique position in their market? Have you purchased their product or referred it to someone else? If you haven’t put in the time to research and understand them, then how could you possibly help them?
Relationships are everything. What are you doing to build them? Are you clipping articles of interest and forwarding them on with a personal note? Are you figuring out how your product or service could eliminate a roadblock for them or reduce their costs? Have you attended their trade shows or conferences to get a better feel for their competition?
Just as your personal activities should focus on adding value and building the relationship, your orgaization’s marketing activities should be focusing on the same thing. Your website should offer access to resources that provide tools, tips and links that your prospects and clients will find interesting and helpful? Consider conducting webinars or in-person seminars to educate clients and prospects on trends that could affect them. Insure that your direct mail pieces aren’t just fodder for the recycling bin, by adding information and valuable content. Your enewsletters and emails should not be all about you, or about your products, services, technologies or equipment. Share data, statistics and technology tips that your clients could use.
No organization is perfect and we’re all tempted to fall into the trap of talking TO clients and prospects because we want them to know what we do, how we do it, how long we’ve been dong it for and how great we are at it. All of that is important information, but only after the relationship is moving forward. What our initial focus needs to be on is talking WITH them, asking questions, listening, adding value and offering solutions. Those are the activities that will build a relationship. What a win-win for everyone and a great example of effective networking!