Refer you?

So here’s the scenario…

‘Looking forward to seeing you at conference Tim.’  Says I.

To which Tim’s reply was … ‘Hey, yeah but sorry I cannot make that date now, I need to be elsewhere and I don’t want to let them down.’

Let THEM down …

Most of us understand that the best kind of business is the type that has been warmed up for you. Introductions to the possibility of new business already made by a colleague or friend, they’ve ‘put the word in,’ you’ve been recommended, introduced by testimonial. Call it what you like.

Like to be referable?

There is no shortcut to becoming referable. We have to earn that. Some would say we need to have at least the following three things in place.

Be able. Yes, the prerequisite in the world of business is . You need to be capable of performing the challenges and responsibilities you take on. You should do as you say you shall. Follow through on promises, be … dependable. If you are sloppy, tardy, or unskilled, you cannot expect existing clients to help you gain new customers, only for you to disappoint.

Be the most remarkable. Not the alternative … that’s no kind of endorsement. Referrals come through providing an exemplary service by being reliable, by surpassing expectations and by having a great attitude. It’s about ensuring your customer has every reason to offer the recommendation.

Be transferable. It is essential for refer-ability. Do you have a punchy, one-sentence summary that creates a memorable picture in the mind? If not, make it a priority to develop one and build any future presentation around it. Make sure it appears on your web home page, on the blog and on the email signature.

What about being sociable? Yes, social (media) can, of course, help us, it can ‘like’ how good we are, ‘tweet’ and ‘share’ how fabulous our business is, but we first need to be person-able, remarkable, and transferable to become referable.

We need to earn it.







Leap year – pop the question

It is well documented that our business population spends a whole lot more time online than predecessors. We know this already.

‘That’s a no-brainer! Tell us another one.’ I hear you say.

Many of us understand that the personal connection is vital, that’s why were driven to add/like/share and participate. Essentially though, the real business transactions either work or fail with the follow-up, personal engagement – when we pop the question.

So how do we initiate personal interaction, connecting with the real decision makers? What methods do we utilise to gain interest?
Are we seeking to engage others with beneficial information? Probably. Demonstration of affinity? Likely.

Engaging with the appointment in mind? Perhaps not.

How much business time is spent on line, window-shopping and wondering how to engage for a meeting? Hey, I’m not saying this is not the way to go – there is plenty of proof also that most online ‘connections’ are a result of qualified common ground, soft canvassing pre-qualification although rarely does this create substantial business entirely on it’s own … unless of course the person to person meeting materialises.

In reality though, geography and logistics combine to mean we’re unable to perform the one to one … nothing the matter with prospecting, good business takes time …

Video link is one way of gaining face-to-face engagement with your potential ‘next best customer’ and video offers the chance to deliver your message – in person – to the key person who is able to take your offer to an even greater audience.

Are you confident on live link? If the answer is no, then you shall need to practice those online presentation skills, because until we are fully adept at using direct link video messaging you won’t trust the technology, you shall not appear credible or trustworthy to the potential client and the whole exercise is lost, your confidence is gone also. Trust.

Each of us has a particular personal skill, a vastly under-utilised skill that in today’s peer-led, trust conscious, cost factored, connections-led online world is often overlooked.

Qualification and engagement are great groundwork but when looking for meaningful results we need to ‘pop the question,’ ask for the appointment.

Why not make plans next month to use your personal skills and get out more? Visit those geographically accessible prospects you’ve cultivated on line and – pop the question – make those strategic appointments and leave the office behind (unless you’ve no choice but to take it with you.)

Take some time building trust and doing some business in person, with real people. Because in today’s business world, business IS personal.

Pre-sales over espresso?

Deirdre and I were enjoying our ‘one to one’ over a great espresso – right after our network Forum when suddenly she came out with a statement that took me back a little …

“I really do need to start getting some orders out of the group soon; I need to make it pay.”

I hadn’t seen this side of Deirdre before. I mean, we’re all working hard (to work smart) in cultivating the business aren’t we? For some of us we simply needed to ‘try the different angle’ I replied.

So we chatted and I suggested to her that if she stays true to herself, supports her group and continues to offer help when required – and of course take any additional exposure offered, all things being true, the reward for all the effort would be plain to see.

“I hear you, I just need to start picking up referrals otherwise it’s not worth my while.’

worth while

‘Not worth my while?’ I poured more coffee.

It’s times like these that bring a certain salience to the purposes of network relations. I couldn’t help myself; I had to ask what was her while worth? What was the number?

I’d made my own calculations. We don’t ‘pay’ a member fee, there is no training programme to support and neither do we have a compulsory promotions strategy. The only numbers were the lunch and the time spent away from the office …

OK, I know I’m biased. Networking has been a great support for my own business and I do understand that some who inhabit ‘network-land’ need to be claiming reward for their ‘relationship building time’ and efforts spending their ‘worth’ but I really don’t ‘get’ the time limit for referral when the bigger picture is there to see. We know it takes time to gain the confidence of others so that when I introduce Deirdre to Dear Fred who introduces her to Joe Bloggs who happens to need a whole host of regular purchases … then of course there are the other outlets they may have …etc.

Sure, the ‘hunter’ sales mentality is still around; it has to be for some like Deirdre who inhabit ‘sales’ or ‘account management.’ For me this won’t change until the ‘culture’ of the organisation itself evolves.

These days it’s so much easier to buy much of what you want, at the price you want when you want online and the ‘hard sell’ just does not form part of the culture.

We need to give more time, give our audience reasons to engage us, to learn and understand our offer. ‘Pre-sales service’ plays a much greater role than many realise and even though it wasn’t working with Deirdre’s company, I’m sure many ‘savvy’ businesses are beginning to see the light.

Need a little job done…

I picked up the telephone.

Do you know anyone who can help me with a little job I need done?

It was Karen, a friend who helps out with email marketing, a good egg and we enjoy working together.

I know that most of you who know me understand that I’ll help Karen, of course I will. After all, Karen is a good friend, runs a great telephony biz which in turn has been great for me – so I’m going to help her and I’m pleased she has asked me.

Anyway, we’ve all been there, if I can’t help, I’ve some great contacts who can. Right?

The ‘job’ entailed an internal relocation of one of her offices so there was the usual wiring and all sorts of stuff that needed an expert to attend to. An ideal job for ‘Bob.’

‘I’ll get right on it, no problem’ came the reply from Bob. ‘Leave it with me … and thank you for the referral.’

It felt good to have been able to help an old friend and at the same time pass a decent referral. We like to help others don’t we? Anyway, I promptly called Karen to assure her that ‘Bob’ would be in touch and passed his details at the same time, just in case.

A week goes by, ten days and Karen and I meet up for ‘other business’ when I happen to ask:
“How is Bob getting on with the office relocation?”

‘Bob who?’ came the reply. My heart sank.
Oh, that Bob, I’m sorry but I didn’t hear from your guy and after a week it had become urgent – so I had to find someone else – hope Bob is alright?

Now there is no need me explaining that we’d been let down, it seems Karen hadn’t even had a call from ‘Bob the expert’ and I suppose she should have called to chase him up, I should have chased him up to remind him etc, etc. But should we? Really??

But hey, is Bob alright? He could be ill, or had an accident – or worse. Lets just see how right he is I thought to myself as I made a mental note …

It turns out that Bob is fine, just been ‘up to his eyeballs, that’s all’ – so busy being busy he explained and assured me he had every intention of follow up ‘that little job’ once he had the time.

‘No matter Bob.’ I explained that Karen had ‘sorted the office out’ and were now pressing ahead with ‘acquiring’ the adjacent office floor … after their incumbent electrician had given it the once over of course.

‘You just never know where the referral may lead you, do you Bob?’

Failure to follow up, to do as you say – no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time – can not only cost you the business, it can profoundly impact the relationships and dent the hard won credibility – and who needs that in today’s business climate?

Going the distance

I took a pit-stop for a really good coffee and cinnamon bun (couldn’t resist) with a friend yesterday, we were comparing notes, putting the world to rights and generally catching up with business.

Gerry said he’d become disillusioned with the current network forum he was attending. Seems the weekly meeting, consisting of a half hour journey to engage colleagues he’d been meeting with for these past four months were taking it’s toll. He was of course eager to convert some business, Gerry was doing all the right things, he was getting in early, helping out at the meeting and educating as he went along.

I simply asked Gerry what he thought was his main hang-up, putting in the effort for little reward?  Lack of recognition? The journey??

don't confuse

Gerry was a little taken aback.  So let me explain I suggested, (making a mess of my cinnamon bun.)

Think about “The Journey” Gerry. You already put the routine in, consistently on time and participating in passing information, guidance – but are you buying into the person Gerry, gaining trust? It’s simple, we need patience, take more time and engage a little more, offer a little more.

Do, but don’t throw away all the good work. Just keep doing …

Take the Trobriand Islanders of the Solomon Sea, I said.

The whaa…

Patience now Gerry. The tiny scattered collection of islets situated off Papua New Guinea are home to some of the fittest, most resilient of sailors, those who know the value of visibility, partnerships and trust, the network and referral.

They understand their tiny island economy depends on their neighbour

With nothing more than an outrigger canoe, travelling extreme distances across open sea the head man makes a point of reaching the neighbouring island on a regular basis to engage his neighbour. Through shark-infested waters, tropical thunderstorms in nothing more than an outrigger – this ambassador habitually leaves his island to engage neighbours, to be seen, swap stories, lessons, and goods to participate in the diversity.

He knows the value of his reputation relies on him maintaining a presence. Showing caring and contact. He also knows his family and fellow islanders will never go hungry while cultivating important reciprocal support from his neighbours.

Each Trobriand Islander understands the value of his/her network; the same routine has been played out for centuries. Lessons are learned.

Point taken says Gerry, I won’t ever whinge about my own journey again … support your network and your network supports you, right?

The journey is far more important than the destination, this is where you are seen, weighed up, considered and ultimately trusted.

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