Social Network Software
My neighbor - a lovely man I've known, and have had social contact with for years - is the COO of one of the world's largest companies. He's read my books, is familiar with my concepts, and is a fan. But we've not talked shop due to our social connection.
One day he called me and told me he wanted me to speak with his new national VP of sales - that he wanted my ideas and methods to be used in his company. Wonderful. Especially since it all came from him.
The VP called me days later at my friend's request, and we had a great phone contact: he said he was familiar with my concepts and was interested in a conversation, and he invited me to his office to spend some time. It was one of the only times in my life I flew to a client site for a face-to-face prospecting visit. In my mind, this was a very hot lead indeed.
When I got there, it became apparent he was setting me up to show the COO that he didn't need me, didn't need my material, and was fine, thank you very much. He was curt, rude, and, frankly between us, rather stupid in his remarks.
When I spoke with my friend, he grumbled and hung up. Next week, he called me back with the name of the VP of training. The man called me, had a lively, exciting conversation with me, sent me a check for the next public training so that he could attend himself, and I never heard from him again.
IT'S NOT ABOUT WHO YOU KNOW I knew the right guy. It doesn't get any better - COO of a Fortune 50 company, close friend. But in the end, it had nothing to do with what I was selling, or who I knew - it had to do with how the buyers were buying.
There is a whole burgeoning field of software that will help sellers find people who they know in a company. Then you can call that person, or have one of your friends call that person - all in hopes that this connection will give you a leg up. Let's take a look at the presuppositions inherent in the concept of social networking:
1. that the person you know within a company has the clout to have some say within the company;
2. that the person you know is on a decision team (or knows someone on a decision team) that is ready to make a decision to bring in a new product or service;
3. that the person you know will know how to say what you need him/her to say to get you the exposure you seek;
4. that bringing you into the company - even if the person has the clout to get you into the company - will influence a decision;
5. that the company is ready to make a change;
6. that the person bringing you in can help the company understand they need to change;
7. that the company will know how to line up it's decision criteria just because you know the right person, and you can show up with your great product and presentation material.
Let's take a look again at what's happening at this point in history. Sales people are not needed to offer information: buyers can get more information about a seller's product than they have to offer, more about their product andthe competition, the good points and bad, the industry successes and failures, the price points - sellers are just not needed to push product any more.
Because this historic sales function has been superseded by a computer, sellers don't know what their jobs are anymore. Sellers are attempting to add new functions to their role so they can offer some value: they are making themselves 'trusted advisors'; becoming 'true consultants'; demonstrating some sort of 'value add'- either through product or service or technology.
IMPEDITMENTS TO SALES But the problems with sales continue: the same problems that have existed within the sales function since its inception continue to be impediments to sales. There remains a void in the sales process in that space between how sellers sell and how buyers buy.
Since its inception, the dichotomy between the product/seller/sale and the buyer's environment/buyer/buying process has been met with fallacious assumptions, including:
* if you get in the door and have a face-to-face meeting, the buyer will know how to buy.
* if you pitch/present/promote/advertise your product effectively, the buyer will know how to buy.
* if you give clients great prices, they will choose your product;
* if you give clients great service, they will know how to choose you;
* if you are the brand leader?
* if you have the best product?
* if the buyer needs your product?
* if you have the best software?
* if you know someone?
A few years ago - about 5, I'm guessing - we came to the realization that 'sales' wasn't working. What did we do? Point our resources to the new-new thing - technology. Since then, we've attempted to try to use technology to overcome all of the inherent problems sales creates. We've tried SFA, CRM, and now Social Network Software. And all they do is continue to operate on the same beliefs that sales has always worked from: people will buy if they like/understand/need/recognize the product, or like the sales person. And that's patently untrue. We've just not known what else to do. And the gulf between the sales end and the buyer's end keeps widening.
In the December 2003 issue of Inc. Magazine, Michael Fitzgeral says in 'Internet Icebreakers', an article on Social Network Software:
'It's not a slam dunk--the contact might not care that your brother's partner's wife just happens to be a member of his homeowners' association.'
For those of you who have been reading my newsletters for years, you are going to have to hear me rant about this just one more time.
-Buyers live in an idiosyncratic buying environment.
-The buyer's network of decision factors includes an interesting network of people, rules, collaborations, initiatives, budget issues, and human fallacies.
-The buyer's environment is a complete system that they are comfortable with.
-Systems face chaos when something new gets added. -Buyer's systems won't add anything new until they understand how to manage any chaos to return to some form of stasis.
In other words, no matter how good your product is, how well you pitch/present/promote/propose it, or who you know, the buyer won't make a purchasing decision until they line up all of their decision variables so they can manage the disruption a new purchase will create within their system.
If you are eager to use Social Network Software, at least use Buying Facilitation® as the front end: help this person navigate their internal variables so they can learn with you how to bring you in the most effective way.
Remember that Buying Facilitation® uses the buyer's decisioning sequence to: lead them through a good look at where they are at (all of their company's norms, rules, values, initiatives, and subjective criteria); notice if anything is missing; understand how to fix it with familiar resources; address all of the internal systems they need to manage prior to bringing in a solution that will possibly create chaos.
The above is the sequence buyers go through anyway, and that the time it takes them to do the above is the length of the sales cycle: they are going to do it with you, or without you. If you can use your new-found relationship to get you into a close range with the prospect, make sure you take the opportunity to lead them through this process and become a true Trusted Advisor.
Once you are 'in' and getting a chance to have your time in the sun, use Buying Facilitation® again to help them line up their decision factors. That will not only make you their true Trusted Advisor, it will also make the person you know look good. It will increase your sales over 200% (that's right - there is not an extra zero there), reduce your sales cycle by 75%, and get you on the decision team.
Getting into the prospect's space, knowing someone who can bring you in, or having a great product remain the outer edge - the selling edge - of sales. It's time in our history to use the job of 'sales' to help buyers make their best buying decisions. Social Network Software can play a part: it's just the front end, however. There's still plenty of work to be done to help buyers buy.
My tag line remains: do you want to sell? Or have someone buy?
Sharon Drew Morgen is the author of NYTimes Best Seller Selling with Integrity. She speaks, teaches and consults globally around her visionary sales method, Buying Facilitation.
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If you're fond of a good debate, you know how to annihilate someone else's position in an argument while still somehow managing to keep a friendly rapport with that person. This tactic is frequently used by politicians and lawyers, and one that will no doubt come in handy in online networking.
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Why are people scared to ask for a referral? Is it the fear of rejection, or do they think that it will annoy their client. If you have been giving 100% to your client and have given them truly excellent service then you shouldn't be ashamed to ask for the opportunity to give that same superior service to other people your clents know.
The Power of Word of Mouth
Most of us remember the commercial that said, "I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on, and?", well you get the picture. This commercial, which represented Breck Hair Shampoo, ran so many times that even I remember who the commercial represented.
Ask for What YOU Want and Gain More Business
Why ask others for help and what do you gain from it?What does asking for help have to do with creating business relationships and making announcements? It has everything to do with it. You have made announcements, donated items, created an awareness of who you are and what you do.
How to Find Participants for a Trial Run
Why is a network meeting the best place to get participants for a trial run?We talked about taking a booth at a networking event, or at least sharing a booth. The booth has to be more than informational in order to help you move your product or service.
Real Business Networking Doesnt Happen at Networking Events
Real networking isn't about handing out business cards at a networking event, or seeing how many you can collect before the event is over. Real networking is about relationships that, when cultivated properly, will breed referrals and positive word of mouth about you and your company.
How NOT to Waste Your Time Networking
Ever wonder if networking, referral groups, and conferences are a waste of your time? Think about it?how many hours do you invest in deciding where to network, registering, getting there, "working the room," and then following up? How much real business do you generate from your networking efforts? How do you know where to invest and where to cut your losses?If you're not thinking critically about how (or if!) to network, I guarantee that you're wasting a lot of time and money. Bonnie Lowe recently interviewed me for her upcoming e-book: Networkaholics Revealed! True Confessions of People Who Networked Their Way To Success (And How You Can Do the Same).
The 4 Actions of Awesome Hospitality
These Actions of Awesome Hospitality? will help you manifest the power of approachability through your organizational front porches.AWESOME ACTION #1: Go Beyond the Door My friend, Pastor Bob Farr of the St.
The 4 Attitudes of Awesome Hospitality
Hospitality relates to the Latin term philoxenia, or "the love of strangers." And stranger is defined as "someone with whom you have not yet been acquainted.
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As a single company, it is impossible to provide your customers with all the services they desire for every aspect of their life; but with guerilla marketing, you can come close. By partnering with companies that provide different, yet complimentary, services to your business, you can create a network of reliable resources for your customers.
Why Cant I Remember Your Name?
You're terrible with names. You forget someone's name within ten seconds of their introduction, and it embarrasses you.
Unforgettable First Impressions Part 2: Its All About Them!
Jean de la Bruyere said, "The great gift of conversation lies less in displaying it ourselves than in drawing it out of others. He who leaves your company pleased with himself and his own cleverness is perfectly well pleased with you.
Create a 10 Second Introduction From Your USP
You can generate a ton of business by networking, whether you belong to a networking organization or just get referrals from existing (satisfied) customers. Whenever you meet a new potential client, it's important to create the right impression about you and your business straight away.
Networking Group Loyalty Requirements
How can you find out the group loyalty requirements before you venture forth?Many groups have loyalty requirements in order to make sure that the leads you generate are exclusively for the members of the group. It is important that you make sure you know everything about the group before you join, and loyalty requirements can put a damper on other activities you have planned.
Plan for the Event or Flounder
Rather than being there to eat the food and drink the drinks, planning before attending an event will change your view.Have you ever attended an event and seen all the people gravitating towards the food and the drinks? That is the first thing people seem to go for.
A Vital Habit For Selling Big Ticket Items
I hope the title of this article aroused your curiosity! What could this habit be that will help you sell Big Ticket Items?It has nothing to do with copywriting or creating beautiful web pages. But it does have to do with something even more important - building relationships!What is this habit? Well it has many names but the most familiar one is probably is "networking".
Building Great Business Relationships
If you're in a business relationship with anyone - a client, vendor, or customer - how important is that relationship to you? Do you value the relationship? Do you want to nurture it?A business relationship, like any relationship, is a two-way street. The expectations of both parties needs be clear and easily understandable.
Small File Box With Resumes to Help Customers
I bet you have not thought about it much, but there are many ways you can help your customers in their daily lives. If you have a customer who just got laid off from their job, tell them you will be glad to take a few of their resumes and put them in a file box and when Corporate Executives come into the store you will be sure to put a good word in for them.
Joining Industry Specific Organizations Has Many Benefits
Recently, while providing an up-and-coming Virtual Assistant (VA) and small business owner with some start-up information, she asked me a very interesting question, "Why do you and other VA's join organizations?"I guess I take for granted the reasons why I belong to several industry specific organizations. But, to those that are new to any industry, joining an organization made up of your competitors is a valid concern.
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