Archive for March, 2012

You Can’t Shoot The Moose From The Lodge!!

March 29, 2012

Network your way to new customers. Remember – You can’t shoot the moose from the lodge! Get out there and meet somebody!

Despite my success with cold calling for new business, I have to admit that the best customers I’ve ever found have come by way of referral, or through someone I met at a networking, or speaking event. When I first took to the ‘networking circuit’, I faced the challenges of networking like most people do. The prevailing question being, “How do I get started”?
One of the greatest challenges for people attending networking events is their nervousness about approaching complete strangers in conversation. How do you introduce yourself? What do you say?
Believe it, or not, most everyone has difficulty talking about themselves, and what they do for a living. Instead, they talk about their product’s value, and keep conversation about themselves at a distance. What I found was that after a few introductions like this, I was bored of myself having said the same thing over and over! That led to my being quiet, and worse yet, becoming shy about approaching anyone else after having spoken to only a few people. That led to my abandoning networking meetings altogether, and I can only guess how much new business that cost me.
Having realized my shortcomings as a ‘networker’, I decided that I was going to introduce myself in as few words as possible in terms of my product & service, and turn over the scope of conversation to finding out what other people do. In other words, I decided to be more interested in OTHER people. I let them do most of the talking, and that made things easier for me. As for starting the conversation, here’s a script that’s worked for me.
Example:
Hello Pat (seeing their name on their name tag), I’m Pete Ekstrom w/ Dealbuilders”. “What brings you to this event”? “How did you hear about it”?

Even if the person you’re speaking with cracks a cheap joke and says that a car brought them to this event, you still have a conversation going, and a bit of a laugh too. That’s what called getting things off to a good start.
Following this brief introduction, now you can delve into the formalities of each other’s business, products, and whatever. But I would suggest that you spend more time talking about the people you do business with, or the types of companies you sell to. The product chatter just doesn’t make for good conversation. And for God’s sake, let the other person do most of the talking. And here’s a final tip for successful networking – Get there early. If you’re nervous about talking to strangers in a crowd, avoid the crowd, and get there early.
More to come about networking etiquette in future posts, so stay tuned…

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“Come On In And Close The Door…”

March 9, 2012

Those are the last words you want to hear on a Friday afternoon, or at the close of the quarter. “Close the door” means you’re about to be fired, and typically you’re the last to know…
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day who had just heard those fateful words, and he told me how he felt the blood drain from his head, how his ear lobes went numb, and his knees started to shake. What was he going to do now? Was there a severance package? How was he going to pay the mortgage, the school tuition? Worse yet, how was he going to tell his wife?
My friend went on to tell me that he never saw it coming. His sales were off, but he had a few things in the pipeline that should’ve closed last quarter, but didn’t. But he still felt confident that it would close this quarter. I’m thinking, how he did not know that he was going to be ‘riffed’ (reduction in force)? Weren’t there obvious signs everywhere that something was amiss with the company he worked for? One look at the current state of business today may explain why my friend was the last to know.
Companies of all sizes are really struggling today to make their number, and new business has become increasingly more difficult to find. Given that difficulty, companies are secretly turning on the dime to cut costs, and that means some heads are gonna roll. There is virtually no patience for underperformance in 2012.
Having been in tech sales for over 25 years, I’ve been through 5 significant economic downturns, and in that span of time I’ve seen several salespeople get ‘riffed’ on a Friday afternoon, and their being ‘riffed’ often came as a complete surprise.
Someone told me many years ago, “If you don’t have a plan of your own, you will become part of someone else’s plan”. In this market you’ve got to watch your back!
Right now, at this very moment, someone is secretly meeting behind closed doors, or speaking on the phone making decisions, and setting in motion a plan of their own that will impact your situation, often times in a very negative way. So, if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to start thinking about a backup plan for yourself. Do not delay. Do not be the last to know!!!
Have a plan of your own so you don’t fall victim to the planning of others. Don’t wait until it’s too late to start a new job search, or think about starting your own business. Better yet, put yourself in the position to tell your boss, “Come on in and close the door…”.