Archives For networking

Trashing Business Cards

March 8, 2012 — 2 Comments

What do you do with the business cards you collect?  I throw mine right in the trash; well, first I enter them into salesforce.com, and then I toss them.  In my sales training workshops I often ask the attendees how many people keep their cards. It’s amazing how many do.  I think they are seen as some sort of trophy.  Despite the electronic filing systems, iPhone card scanners, and Vcard technology, people like hard-copy cards.

If you’re like most, you bring home a stack from each event or trade show, sit them on your desk by the phone, and when there’s nothing else to do, you flip through them, like a stack of prized baseball cards, dreaming about business opportunity.  Deep down, you admit to yourself that these people won’t remember you if you call them right now.  They probably threw your card in the trash when they returned from the meeting.  But these cards represent opportunity, and the higher up these people are, the more prized these cards become.  The question is, what will you do with them, to turn them into business?

© 2012, David Stelzl

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RSA was in full swing last week – did anyone attend? I guess the big question is, if you went, was it worth going?  Most of the material presented at RSA, based on past shows, is now available online…however, the networking opportunity can’t be beat.  Granted, if you sit on the vendor side, writing security software or  manufacturing a security product, you should be there; but only if you can afford to be there with a big enough booth to stand out.

For most, a trade show like this is a waste of time – I know, some people reading this are going to react, thinking I am crazy.  It’s expensive and time consuming, but if you sit on the solution provider side (Code word for VAR in most cases,) you probably won’t see any significant ROI in the coming months.  However, there are ways to make this investment worth the time and money.  Armed with a plan, an event like RSA might be just the thing – after all, there are thousands of potential prospects gathering for one thing – to learn about technology, with technology people.

In a recent coaching session I was working with a client on this very thing.  Where else can you meet thousands of prospects for the cost of a plane ticket and a hotel room – perhaps some food and a visit to Starbucks?  With the right  strategy you just might meet some very important contacts.  In this case, the client I am working with is running the company.  That’s important because most sales people sell into a small territory, meaning they probably won’t meet any significant prospects in their personal territory unless the region they cover is big.  My client, in this case, covers the world, so he’s in good shape.  So how did we make this a worthwhile investment?

We started out by developing his advisory positioning statement  (this comes straight out of my book, From  Vendor to Adviser).  Rather than setting up expensive booths for his small company, we created a compelling guidebook designed to help companies securely leverage social media in their sales and customer service programs (which fits in well with his offerings).  Armed with this informative document, my client positioned himself wherever people gather – at a trade show this usually means sitting in the eating areas and coffee shops (another excuse to visit Starbucks), reading or responding to email, while keeping an eye out for those he might want to engage with.

If you’ve been to many trade shows, and most of us have attended one too many, you know people tend to throw everything in a bag, with plans to sort it all out when they get home.  Of course, most never get around to it, so the cards get lost and the contacts go to waste.  In this situation, our plan did not rely on handing out cards, but rather collecting them with an offer to send our new contact an electronic copy of the guidebook.

It worked!  My client met numerous people, connected at a deeper level with several, and ended up talking for over an hour with a couple of very large companies – with some great potential for follow-up project work.  In the end he landed at least five very significant meetings with strong possibilities for future work.  In fact, two of them represent software houses that have the potential of feeding his company a never ending stream of subcontracted programming work – recurring business that will last as long as he demonstrates unbeatable value.  It’s his to lose.

Collecting names in exchange for value greatly improves the chances of moving to the next level in the relationship.  Now we just need to make those follow up meetings worth attending – new business is just on the other side.  Start preparing now for your next trade show, and plan for a big return on investment.

© 2012, David Stelzl

In yesterday’s post I wrote about list building, as my children diligently work to increase their marketing reach – but how exactly do you grab the attention of new people?

The best way to make an immediate connection is to have something of value to offer.  In the case of my children, they are offering a way to avoid having to think too hard about what to do for the holidays (in this case, what to give a loved one for Valentine’s Day).  Having a handy picture of the treats they sell makes this possible.  Originally my daughter wanted to just list the items, but a picture is worth a thousand words, and the emotional impact of seeing delicious chocolate does wonders for the person considering a purchase.  They must to be able to picture what they are paying for – in fact you want them to be able to picture the experience of handing this gift to their loved one, and receiving praise for having done something really special.

Connecting with a businessperson is no different.  Everyone is looking to succeed in what they are already doing; they are not thinking about helping you make your number.  Do you see the difference?  I think more sales people are out there expecting people to drop what they are doing in order to take a look at some new products or services.  This isn’t the way busy people operate.  They all have jobs; busy jobs; demanding jobs.  No one has time to stop and take a look, and no one really cares about helping you make your number, at least at this point in the relationship.  So what do you have that helps them?  Find out what they are doing and then join them in helping achieve it.

I was talking with a client the other day about partnering with a certain manufacturer.  We were discussing the value of some of these relationships, and comparing them to the lack of value in other reseller relationships.  I mentioned another client of mine who has no full time sales people.  “How do they do it?”, he asked.  They are getting leads from their primary vendor partner.  “How?” he pressed.  “They have become the go-to provider in this city,” I answered.  We then went on to talk through some of his partners.  His technical group has made most of the decisions, purely on features, as to what they sell, but this is not the only qualification.  Vendor partners need to be just that, partners.  In order for that to happen, you must find out what they are doing and join them.  Find out what their numbers are, where they are making their money, and where they are missing.  Then help them figure out how to solve this problem.  Join them by putting together a joint plan to fill in the missing piece.  An immediate connection is made when this happens.

Do the same with businesses that you aim to call on.

If you work on the vendor side (for instance, as a channel manager), the same would be true in recruiting strong partners.  Find out what they working to build, and if you can somehow get involved to help them build their vision, you just might become the product they lead with.  Connecting with people is a simple process of finding out what they are doing, and joining them to help them achieve their goals.  When it fits within your vision, it works, when it doesn’t, the partnership or relationship just doesn’t make sense.

© 2012, David Stelzl

Building the List

January 25, 2012 — Leave a comment

Two of my children have started a business selling holiday baked goods (note: these are their pies!)  Valentines Day is right around the corner, so it’s a good time to be marketing chocolate and cookies, or anything family members might gravitate toward, to express appreciation to each other.  But how do my children build their call list?  The food is great (see picture), but getting the word out is difficult.  “It’s a process of list building,” I tell them.  “If you spend all of your time in the kitchen, experimenting with truffles and flavors, you’ll never sell anything”.  But, no matter what I say, their tendency is to spend their time on the part they love, sometimes letting the business die a slow death.

Building the list takes time.  In fact, you can’t really wait until the list is built, because it never is.  It’s a process that takes a lifetime.  Every contact should be a consideration, and every contact is, or knows someone who is.  With this in mind, we have developed cards with pictures of the treats they prepare, with simple directions to access their “Buy Now” website.  And every time they enter a store where they know someone, or meet a new prospect, they should be asking for referrals, handing out extra cards, and collecting more names.  It must become their passion to collect and maintain these names, treating each one with respect and gratefulness.

This is the process every sales person must go through as they look to spread their value and identify new prospects.  Event marketing depends on it, in fact, any marketing today depends on it, simply because people don’t want to hear from someone they don’t know.  In 2012, your business depends on great marketing – events, webinars, campaigns, and referrals…

PS.  Don’t miss my upcoming webinar (FREE) – Unlocking the Secrets of Event Marketing (Sign up Here)

© 2012, David Stelzl