Networking events cost companies a lot of money each year. Very often they are not held locally, and the expense of these affairs can be enormous. On the face of it, they are looked upon as an investment, but very often sales organizations can fall down on this aspect of business development because they miss the whole point.
Without a network of savvy associates who understand your goals, the purpose of these meetings will be lost. Sales professionals should be leaders who are looked up to, are trusted, and can build strong relationships within their networks. The principles of a strong network team are set out below:
Give, And Ye Shall Receive
At a weekly sales meeting a successful sales manager should ask these questions:
- How did we help our customers?
- What did we do to help our partners achieve their sales targets?
- Are you, the sales team, reaching your sales goals?
A good networker knows that his sales goals, and those of his partners, can only be met or exceeded by looking for ways to improve.
To Have and to Hold
A successful business professional enters into long term relationships with his referral partners based on reciprocity. But many salespeople fail in that commitment, because all they have are loose associations with other business people that are not real partnerships. To build a strong relationship a professional must:
- Be a matchmaker
- Understand what his referral partner can bring to the table
- Make things happen
- Meet and identify goals for his partner, and therefore himself
Like a good marriage, your business relationships will improve with time, but only if you are willing to invest your time with your partner, help him and answer his questions.
Hello I’ve got To Go!
Whoever came up with the idea of Speed Networking? What a joke.
“Hi! My name is Roger Rabbit and I work for XYZ Company! Here’s my card! Buy something from me. Bye!”
Well duh? Roger may raise a few chuckles, but nobody will ever take him seriously with that approach.
Would you trust Roger with your best client, or invite him onto your team? No, because you don’t know anything about him! You don’t know what his expertise is, you certainly don’t know if you could trust him, and he didn’t take the time to build any kind of relationship with you. A strong referral network is developed slowly, by careful selection and mutual trust.
Ever been on (what you thought was) a great first date, then you never heard from the other person again? You were convinced it was going to be such a great relationship at the time, perhaps you gave that person something of value, perhaps your favorite book?
Boy do you feel cheated!
In the business world, referrals are valuable, and when you give away a referral you expect to hear about the outcome, and fast. If the person you gave it to never gets back to you, at first you’ll wonder why, and then you will also feel cheated. You gave away something valuable, and you will certainly never recommend that person again.
In a good working relationship that doesn’t happen. Even if things went horribly wrong, you must keep your partner informed of the situation, do it quickly enough and any problems could be fixed. Always, without fail, thank you partner for the introduction, and tell them what happened. Did they make the sale? If not, why not? Could we have done something differently? A good networker will always do a follow up.
Do the Work!
Your good friend Brett is a busy man, you run into him and he mentions he needs something that your company can provide. You can do one of two things:
- Pass Brett’s number to Scott Salesman and tell him to say you told him to call, or
- Call Brett yourself, tell him you recommend Scott to take care of his needs and that he will be calling later. What’s a good day and time for Scott to call?
By using the second example, you have pre-warmed Brett to Scott, and established a convenient time for the call, AND you have also protected your relationship with Brett. Remember we said Brett was a busy man?
How warm will Brett feel towards Scott if he calls while he’s filming a commercial? Brett doesn’t even know who Scott Salesman is!
By taking that small extra step, which only took a minute, you have now established a relationship between Brett and Scott.
Do the work and invest your time, it pays off. Stop with the “use my name” stuff already. It’s just plain lazy, AND you are setting Scott up to fail.
It’s a tough economy today and it’s sorting the men out from the boys. It is essential that you build good relationships to maintain your network and referral partners. Personal introductions and a warm handshake will win every time over a spammy email or a cold call!
Is your network disconnected and dysfunctional? You have already invested a lot of time and effort into your partners, so don’t waste that investment by failing to implement these few simple tips.
Network Marketing Made E-Z!