Tuesday, January 20, 2015

NEED MORE BUSINESS? START BY NEVER EATING ANOTHER LUNCH ALONE AGAIN



In most businesses today, referrals are the most effective forms of prospecting. Why? Because referrals provide a higher level of “credibility” and “trust” over all other forms of marketing - most people commonly refer to these as “warm” leads. Warm leads mean higher rates of sales conversion and better productivity and time management – all of which are key to successful sales growth.

Let’s face it – we all get bombarded every day with an increasing levels of advertising. The average person now receives around FOUR THOUSAND marketing messages a day – a nearly 700% increase over the past 40 years. Poor salespeople think like lemmings and follow prospecting trends right off the cliff with other non-successful people. Smart salespeople on the other hand always look for ways to differentiate, innovate, and successful outperform their competition and there is no better place to start than with your prospecting efforts.

Most of us eat and do so three times a day. People love to eat and the more complicated their lives, the more they love the “release” of eating. Eating and eating out provides release in many different ways. It releases us from our office constraints, the people we work/live with every day, from the minutia and mundane of our jobs, and processes that govern our everyday lives. We also love good food, dining environments and meeting new people.

So here is what I always tell salespeople and professionals that need more business: DON’T WASTE YOUR MEALS BY EATING ALONE and the best ways to accomplish this is to focus in on the following steps:

SET YOUR GOALS

Great sales planning is all about developing repeatable and successful sales systems and habits. So if you want to be successful, set a prospecting goal now and measure yourself against it. To keep this simple, set a goal of taking a client / prospect out to lunch each work day and a breakfast at least 3 days a week. Factoring in vacations and time off, this works out to around 368 referral meals a year. If you were to receive on average at least 3 referrals from each meal, this would add up to over 1100 new leads. So how would you like to receive 1100 new “warmer” prospects this year? If this would help you, read on…

GIVE IN ORDER TO RECEIVE

In sales, you have to give in order to receive to be successful. Think about it: when you visit a client and/or prospect in their work environments, you are taking their time to sell to them while initially giving nothing in return. You might think your product and service is the give but in most cases, this involves a delayed value exchange and sales process and just how much time do people have these days to review all the sales opportunities that come their way?  Taking a prospect or client out to breakfast or lunch (and paying for it) is the most effective way for most people to “give” before you are selling and asking to receive.

KNOW WHO TO TAKE
 
The biggest mistake salespeople make when taking clients / prospects out to lunch is they are asking the wrong people to join them. Not every client / prospect is the ideal client – especially when it comes to asking for referrals. The primary people you should be focusing your referral breakfast and lunch meetings with are your PROMOTERS. There are only three types of customer you will ever have: Promoters,  Buyers and Demoters. Of the three, only promoters will give back to you (ie referrals) when you initially give to them. The goal is to identify your Promoters and focus all of your referral meals with them first. Click to learn more about Promoters.

CREATE A PERSONAL CONNECTION

Referral breakfast and lunches should start with building trust and a connection with the customer and you don’t do this by starting right out with asking for referrals. In most cases, you have 60 minutes so use them wisely. Before your meal, lookup information about your client: Google their name and look on LinkedIn – find out what they are passionate about in their lives. If all else fails and you don’t know – simply ask them…people love to talk about themselves. The goal here is to create and foster a personal connection so they will like you and feel obligated to help you. Hold your referral questions until the latter half of the meal. This should give you enough time to build a relationship and not look like you are only there to take from them.

BRING REFERRAL RESOURCES

How many sales meetings do you go to totally unprepared? Most people will say never. Well, you need to approach your referral breakfast and lunches in the same manner. If the goal of these meetings is to ask for referral business, you need to be able to clearly define who your target prospects are. Since you are relying on referrals from your contact, you need to clearly spell this out for them and help provide them with whatever will assist them in this effort. This may include a target prospect list or names of people in their own network. If they are on LinkedIn, connect with them prior to the meeting and show them their connections on the LinkedIn App on your smart phone and see if it helps to jog their memory. Once they start firing off names, write them down.

ASK ASK ASK

The biggest problem most salespeople have in dealing with referrals is they simply don’t ask for them. Studies have shown that 91% of customers have indicated that they will provide referrals yet only 11% of people will ask for them. Don’t be that 11% - create the habits now to ALWAYS ask for referrals from the right people in the right environments. As previously discussed, the best time to ask for referrals during meals is towards the latter half of the meal – after you have created trust and fostered a relationship and a better obligation to ask and receive. So what do you ask? Simple: “Can you please tell me somebody (at least 3-5 people) in your network that could possibly benefit from my products or services?”  Nail this question down and get it in your head so you don’t forget. REMEMBER: if you never ask for something, the answer is always “NO.”

FOLLOW-UP

Many salespeople fail due to one simple problem: they do not follow-up. We know from studies that 48% of salespeople never follow-up with a prospect and they will only make two attempts on average to reach them and the stop. Since we know that 50% of sales go to the first person who contacts a prospect, we can clearly see the disconnect here.  The key is to follow-up and never give up. You may need to change how you follow-up after repeated attempts but you never give up. Remember: only 50% of qualified leads are ready to buy when you want to sell to them so you need a system to stay in front of them when they are ready to buy.

When it comes to following up on your new “warm” leads from your referrals breakfasts and lunches, you need to act and convert them at the highest levels possible. Start by asking if the referrer will help to introduce you to the referral on your behalf and let you know what that happens. These will commonly convert the best and typically take place by a phone or email introduction.

If the referrer is not willing to make the effort, then ask them if you can use their name as a source for the reference instead – most people will agree to this. In these instances, make sure to formulate your messages to your referrals carefully and in a way that will generate the highest levels of credibility and curiosity. Examples could include:

“Hi John, I just had lunch with Jim Smith who is a client of mine and he gave me your name and said we should meet.” How does Wednesday afternoon look? If I don’t hear back I will help by sending you a Calendar invite. PS: During our meeting please remind me to discuss how I helped John save money this year.”

“Hi John, I work with Jim Smith and he said you too could benefit from my services. What days and times would work best to meet for 15 minutes this week? Can I send you a calendar invite for Thursday at 3pm? PS: Remind me to tell you about how Jim is now getting his best clients.”

For those referral prospects who fail to respond after 5 repeated attempts to reach them, put them into your boomerang marketing system so you can drip-market to them and get their business when they are finally ready to buy from you.

These of course are just a couple of examples and will vary based on factors such as contact mediums, industries, etc. Either way, make sure your follow-up messages have a PURPOSE, are RELEVANT, PERSONALIZED, include a CALL TO ACTION and generate CURIOSITY.

KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS

Finally, keep your receipts from all of your breakfast and lunches for you may be able to write-off some or all of these expenses on your taxes at the end of the year. Make sure to connect with your accountant on these details so you can plan ahead for this. This also brings me to the topic of dinners. Many dinners can include alcohol and the costs can be typically 3X+ the cost of a breakfast or lunch and commonly result in the same outcomes…at a higher cost of course. You also want to be careful to not compete with your prospect’s personal family time as well. My general rule of thumb is breakfast and lunches before dinner and save dinners for your best promoters ONLY

#salestraining  #sales  #business   #leadership  #salesfacts  #salesmanagement  #management  #jobs #referrals

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Dustin. This should be required reading for anybody in sales!

    ReplyDelete