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Why selling isn't selling anymore

Visibility, Credibility and Profitability

What is you referability?

10 Things to do in 10 Minutes to Generate More Business

Conversation Starters for the Nervous Networker

New Year, New Opportunities - February 2016

How good is your 60 second pitch? - December 2015

Perfect your Networking Sandwich

What are the benefits of business networking? 

Top 5 business networking tips

 

 

Why selling isn't selling anymore - August 2016

This month I’d like to talk about selling, whether that’s selling to a prospect, up-selling to a current customer or even selling to a supplier.

Traditionally when we talk about selling our products or services it means telling people what we do and how we do it, this often then goes on to cover why that person should buy from us. In my view there’s a big problem with this.

At no point in those discussions have we ever asked the prospect what they want. For me, that should be the beginning of the process, let me explain….

Imagine you’re meeting a potential new client for the first time, how does that first meeting go? Perhaps you start your meeting with some pleasantries, talk about the weather or the meeting venue. You may then begin the meeting by telling your prospect all about your company, what you do and what you think you can do for them.

At no point in this conversation did we ask the prospect what they wanted.

A better place to start would be by putting yourself in your prospect’s shoes. What do they think they want and how do they think you can help them?  By putting yourself in their shoes and asking them what results they want makes for a much better prospect oriented conversation.

Here are a few quick tips and thoughts on how you might have more effective conversations which can result in selling more without selling what you do.

Start your conversation with,” Great to meet you, I’m really looking forward to our meeting”.  If you start your conversation with “thanks for coming…” you’re already in their debt and owe them something.

Start by asking them what they want to get out of the meeting. Ask them what their current problem or challenge is that prompted your meeting.  Ask them what they think you can do to help. Explain that you need to understand the position they’re starting from so that you can give them exactly what they need, no more and no less. Ask them if there is anything that needs to change in their business for you to be able to help.

Once you’ve established exactly what it is they need you’re in a much better position to precisely demonstrate how your product or service will solve their problems. I believe it’s also vital as the meeting closes to agree how you will communicate and follow-up, for example when any additional information will be provided from either side and when the proposal will be provided.  By doing this you are establishing the terms of your relationship and your prospect will know what they can expect from you.

At its most basic level the principle here is to be them not you if you simply ask yourself what would I want if I were them, you will find that you have much more productive conversations that will ultimately leads to more business.

Please get in contact you have any questions or If I can help with anything.

mark@bnieastmidlands.co.uk

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Visibility, Credibility and Profitability - July 2016

This month’s blog is about Visibility, Credibility and Profitability. It is a process that we all go through as we build relationships and is fundamental to creating a referral-based business.

Firstly, I’d like to define the three elements:

1. Visibility:  This is when people know you and they know what you do, for example, when you attend a networking event and there are several people in the room who know you by name. A good measure of this is when you don’t need to pass business cards to those people as they already know what you do.

2. Credibility:  This is when people know you and they know what you do and they know you are good at what you do. Typically, your current customer base should fit into this bracket.  However, I do believe you can be credible with people without doing business with them.  To be credible with people you haven’t done business with you will need to have a strong relationship with them and more often than not have helped them either personally or in their business. Building credibility with people often means learning personal information about them, perhaps their family, their favourite places to go on holiday or more personal information about their business or company.

3. Profitability:  This is when people know who you are, know what you do, they know you’re good at what you do, and they’re willing to recommend you to other people.  This final stage can be the foundation for a truly profitable referral based business.  Being recommended to a new customer by an existing customer can be a very powerful introduction and we all know how great it feels to receive that level of introduction.

Success in networking is not just about being visible with the people you meet.  To truly build a profitable network you need to go through all three stages and build strong relationships with your referral partners.

Here’s some additional points to note:

1. You can be at different levels with different people and a good exercise to go through with your current network is to categorise each of your network connections in terms of Visibility, Credibility and Profitability.  Once you know what level you’re at with each of your connections you can begin to work on those relationships to move them into Profitability

2. For those of you that are members of BNI or any other referral-based network please note that simply asking for introductions to people is unlikely to work until you’re credible with the people you’re asking, so building credibility is a vital step that must not be overlooked.

There is one final point which I’d like to make and that is to add in another word between Visibility, Credibility and Profitability. That word is Regularity. I believe that to be credible with someone you need to be regularly visible with that person, and to be profitable with someone you need to be regularly credible with that person. As you can see profitability is not a short-term process it is a long-term referral based marketing process that can win your company massive amounts of business by building strong relationships and credibility with the people you’ve networked with.

Look out for future blogs on how to move your network through Visibility, Credibility and Profitability.

That’s all for now.

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What is you referability? - June 2016

Referrals, referrals, referrals.

We give them, we receive them, we want them – but how do we get them?

Passing a referral to someone is a very fulfilling experience – we all know how good it feels at Christmas or birthdays to give presents. Giving a referral is also a serious business especially as we are passing a portion of our reputation with that referral, so it is essential that the person receiving the referral has earned our trust.  Genuine referrals can be the lifeblood of any business especially as they are so easy to close, so how do I make myself more referable?

Here are 5 simple steps you can take now to make yourself more referable.

1. Show up on time.
This is common sense. Show up on time! If you are going to be late, contact someone to let them know. This shows respect, professionalism, and courtesy.

2. Do what you say you are going to do.
Don’t set expectations that you can’t fulfil, keep it realistic, and keep it genuine. People want the truth and they want to know what they are getting. If you can’t do what you said you’d do, let them know and let them know why.

3. Finish what you started.
Sometimes we just can’t get finished in time, or by a deadline, but that’s life. However, if you can’t finish something, tell your clients why and what you’re going to do instead – don’t leave them in the dark. It’s all about managing expectations.

4. Say please and thank you.
As they say, manners don’t cost a thing. Not only does this show common courtesy and respect, it shows that you value someone’s thoughts, their business, and that you respect them as a person.

5. Have a transferable message
This means a message about you and how you help your clients; it’s not full of details about your business, it’s about you, the person.Perhaps it’s a short message in the form of an example of how you helped a particular client.It’s a message that someone else can say about you when you’re not there!

These principles are applicable to each and every business. It really is that easy.

Referrals are not only a humbling compliment from other businesses but a satisfying reassurance that you’re doing your job well. 

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10 Things to do in 10 Minutes to Generate More Business - April 2016

As small business owners, we're all trying to get more leads and more clients to generate business, improving the profitability of our company. One of the best ways I've found of meeting prospects and generating leads is business networking and referrals. These are both great ways of building relationships with other business people who might be in your industry or in the same area as you. If you can develop a strong relationship with these people, then they are more likely to trust you and, therefore, come to you for business in the future or refer you to someone else who is looking for the service you offer.

Here are 10 simple things you can do in just 10 minutes to generate more business:

Make 10 phone calls to potential visitors - Bringing more people to a networking event that you attend means that you get the chance to talk to and build relationships with even more people, so give a quick, friendly call to anyone you know who you think might be interested.

Send 10 email invitations - If you prefer communicating by email than over the phone, send email invitations to those who you think will benefit from attending your networking meeting.

Send 10 "thank you's" for past referrals received - If someone refers business to you, show them that you are grateful and that the business they generated is valued by you. This will make them more likely to refer to you again in the future.

Connect with 10 people on LinkedIn - Social media is a great way of staying in touch with people you've met and even connecting with new people. Connecting on LinkedIn with people you've met at a networking event is a good way of continuing the relationship online.

Follow up on 10 business cards collected at recent events - If you've had a conversation with someone and promised that you would send them some information, make sure you do it. It can be useful to make notes on the business cards you collect so that you don't forget.

Send 10 Tweets about colleague's businesses - Sharing information about another person's business on social media is a good way to give their profile and their business more exposure, and they are likely to reciprocate, giving you more exposure as well.

Share your 10 top target clients with your Power Team - Make sure that the people in your networking group know who your ideal client is so that they can refer you to the right people and get you the type of business you want.

Plan 10 one-2-ones - Connect with your fellow networkers outside of the networking meeting with one-to-one sessions. These meetings will help you to get a deeper understanding of the person's business.

Introduce 10 of your most trusted colleagues to your network - You want to bring the best people into your networking group to help it thrive, so if there are people you particularly trust, be sure to invite them along.

Write 2 testimonials, written and online - Testimonials are great tools for generating more business, so if you've received a great service from someone, write them a testimonial that they can publish on their website or social media and they might return the favour to you.

Try these 10 quick and easy tasks to generate more business for your company today, and see how successful you can be.

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Conversation Starters for the Nervous Networker - March 2016

Business networking is an often undervalued tool for the small business owner, providing an opportunity to meet other local businesses, companies in a similar industry to you and even potential clients. Unfortunately, networking does not come naturally to everyone. A lot of people find it very difficult to introduce themselves to new people in a networking situation or they can't think of what to say They may feel uncomfortable at events and so it puts them off attending in the future. Running your own business is about overcoming fears and doing things which are risky, or that place you outside of your comfort zone.

Next time you feel like this at a networking event, just remember that the majority of people in the room probably feel the same way. If you see someone standing by themselves, they are probably just as nervous as you are and also wondering how they can start a conversation with someone. Take the leap and start talking to someone new. When you are talking to someone at a networking event, asking them questions is a great way of finding out what they do and how you might be able to help them. If you are stuck for ideas on how to start a conversation with someone at a networking event, here are a few ideas:

  1. How did you get started in your business?
  2. What do you enjoy most about your profession?
  3. What separates you and your company from your competition?
  4. What advice would you give someone just starting out in your industry?
  5. What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?
  6. What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?
  7. What do you see as the coming trends in your industry?
  8. What’s the strangest/funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business?
  9. What ways have you found to be most effective in promoting your business?
  10. What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you run your business?

The next time you’re at a networking event, try using some of these questions to start a conversation with someone new, or to find out more about someone you already know. Once you've made the first step and you have an idea of what to talk about, you'll hopefully find that the conversation flows and you'll forget that you were ever nervous, especially when you walk away with valuable new business contacts.

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New Year, New Opportunities - February 2016

We're well on our way into the New Year and it's a time for re-evaluating your life, your prospects, your future and a time for setting resolutions. Hopefully you're still going strong with any resolutions you did set, but what about your career? Do any of your resolutions involve how you want your professional life to progress over this year? If you sat at home over Christmas dreaming up plans of starting up your own business, now is the time to take action.

Starting your own business is a big step, so you need to make sure that you think it through really carefully. Here are a few things to consider:

Is it for you?

If you've been dreaming about running a business for a long time, then you probably know the answer to this one already.  But do think carefully about what running a business will entail and if it is the right life for you. If you long for the freedom and responsibility of being your own boss, being able to work hours that suit you and in the places that suit you, then self-employment sounds like the way to go. It will take a lot of hard work and dedication to make it a success, so make sure you're prepared for this. If you have a passion that you want to follow, then you're probably more than willing to put in the hard work.

Do you have an idea?

Make sure you have a viable business idea before you jump straight in. What product/service will you be offering? Is there a market for it? Who will buy it? Who will your competitors be? Think through lots of different aspects about your business and how it will run to assess the viability of it. Writing a business plan is a good idea to set the aims of your business and predict how much money you'll need to get going and how much you'll be capable of earning.

Where will you find customers/clients?

Once you've got an idea of who your customers or clients are going to be, you need to think about how you are going to connect with them. Business networking is a great way to build strong relationships in your local community, which will help you in a number of ways during the running of your business. You can find new clients directly from networking if the people you meet there are in need of your product/service, or if you develop a good relationship with them, they are likely to refer you to anyone they know who could be a client of yours. Plus, it's a good way of getting involved with other businesses in the community and getting advice and support on running your own business in that area.

So, if you've decided it's time to break out on your own and start a new business, take these quick tips into consideration, and have a look at what business networking groups are available near you. Click here to find a BNI meeting local to you for a great way to get new business.

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How good is your 60 second pitch? - December 2015

How often have you met someone at a networking event and when you have asked him or her what they do, they say ‘I am a Website Designer’ or ‘I am a Financial Advisor’.  When someone tells you what they do in very broad terms its hard to know exactly what they offer or who their typical clients are.

In a networking situation you often only have about 60 seconds to get someone’s attention and to help him or her understand what you offer and why you are different from your competitors.  If you don’t grab their attention quickly they will move on to the next person and forget who you are.

Even very experienced networkers often struggle with their 60 second pitch.  At informal networking groups, this is often called your ‘elevator pitch’, a quick and simple way of getting as much useful information across to the recipient as possible.  In more structured networking situations such as BNI, your 60 seconds is a way of communicating to everyone in the room. In simple terms, you should have two main goals in mind. You want everyone to:

  • Remember you and your business.
  • Understand the types of referrals you want.

There are lots of different ways in which you can get your message across effectively and here are a few tips for you.  The number one tip is to prepare your pitch.  If you don’t prepare you may miss the chance to get your key message across clearly and in a way the other person understands.  Also preparation helps your 60 second flow without you having to read from a piece of paper.

Here are 5 steps to get you a 60 second pitch that helps you generate business.

  1. Name, company and what you do - focus on the benefits of what you do.
  2. Why we can refer with confidence - a story of how you have helped others with the same circumstances.
  3. What to listen for and how to respond - the problems your target client may be experiencing.
  4. Target clients - either a specific industry or consumer group, or asking for a connection to a specific company or person.
  5. Your name, company and memory hook – a tagline that helps people to remember what you do.

Remember, the more specific you are the better. This will increase the chances of people understanding you and your perfect client. 

We hope this blog has helped you, if however you want some help or ideas with preparing your perfect pitch get in touch with us on 01522 801 845

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Perfect your Networking Sandwich - November 2015

Have you ever got your filling wrong? You’re expecting a delicious BLT, but as you take your first bite, a catastrophe happens on your tongue, you’ve picked up cheese and pickle by mistake. Getting your filling wrong is a classic business networking mistake.

Similar to navigating the busy supermarket meal-deal stand at lunchtime, networking is a minefield of opportunities and pitfalls if you go in unprepared.

Most people get the bread right – they know the basics of starting and finishing a conversation without offending or upsetting anyone. But the filling – or what to talk about in between – is where people can stumble.

Ineffective networking usually goes one of two ways. Either you ramble on about nothing for 20 minutes while the other person nods politely, but doesn’t ever gain an understanding of what you do. The other end of the poor conversation spectrum results in you awkwardly running out of things to say, and forcing some polite small talk before the other person excuses themselves to speak to someone more interesting.

Don’t let this be you.

Get your filling right and you’ll potentially set yourself up for the start of a great and fruitful relationship.

So how do you make the perfect sandwich?

We all know that first impressions count so make sure you have the right ‘bread’ i.e. be prepared and know how you will introduce yourself, be consistent and interesting.

The filling in your sandwich should be focused on your networking partner i.e. be the ‘filling’ they want to hear about, not just what you want to say. Listen to them and adapt your ‘filling’ so it’s relevant to them and will help them in their business.

Give your networking partner the information they need, in a way that’s relevant to them, and you will build a strong foundation for a fruitful and productive relationship. Now you have the perfect filling for your networking sandwich!

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Hands up who likes networking?

Now, hands up who regularly attends business networking events?

My guess is that more people raised their hand for the second question than the first. Not everybody likes networking; depending on your personality, you’re either the kind of person who likes to meet new people, feels comfortable introducing yourself, doesn’t mind public speaking and working a crowd, or you couldn’t imagine anything worse.

Networking events push many people out of their comfort zone, yet lots of business owners and their employees attend these events weekly or monthly. This is because they know that it benefits them as a business professional.

Here are just a few of the benefits business networking has to offer you and your business:

Increase leads

The people you meet at networking events are your potential clients. The more people you talk to about your business, the more likely it is that you will meet someone who is in need of your product/service. Vice versa, you may meet someone who offers something that you need.

Generate referrals

Talking to people at networking events about what it is you do and how you help people makes it much more likely for them to refer you to someone they know. They may know someone who is in need of your product/service, but if they don’t fully understand what you do then they won’t know that they can refer them to you. Passing on referrals yourself is a good way of encouraging others to pass business on to you.

Share knowledge

A room full of business professionals all from different industries and backgrounds contains a lot of exert knowledge. At a networking event you can tap into this knowledge by learning from the people that you meet. Plus, sharing your knowledge with others will establish you as an expert in your field, as well as someone who is happy to help others.

Raise your profile

Getting your name and your business out there on a regular basis will help to raise awareness of yourself and your business brand. Attend networking events, help others out, pass on referrals and follow up after events to establish yourself as someone who is reliable and an authority in your field of expertise. This will make it more likely for others to recommend you as they know that they can trust you.

Increase confidence

Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is the best way to grow your skills and increase your confidence. It may be difficult to start with, but the more that you network, the easier it will become. This is especially true if you attend the same networking group on a regular basis, as you will get to know the other people who attend, and it’ll make you feel more comfortable if you walk into a room full of people you are familiar with.

These are just a few of the numerous benefits of business networking events. So, if you’re not already attending networking events, it’s time to start.

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Top 5 business networking tips - September 2015

Business networking events offer you a great opportunity to get out of the office and meet people who can help you to further your business. Here are our top 5 tips for effective business networking:

Two ears one mouth

Obviously, you want to let people know what you do, but if you spend the whole networking session talking about yourself they will probably get bored and forget about you straight afterwards. Listen to what it is they do and what their problems or areas of expertise are. That way you can find out if there are any ways you can help them or if they can help you.

Rise to the occasion, prepare your elevator pitch

In the interest of not talking about yourself for too long, it’s really handy to be able to succinctly explain who you are, what you do and how you can help. That way you can get this information across in a short period of time and then let the other person talk, or move on to meet someone else. Think of it this way - if you met your perfect client in an elevator, could you win them over with a business pitch before they reach their floor?

The only time you should avoid your friends

When you walk into a room full of people and spot someone you know, it’s common for you to gravitate towards them. This is obviously fine as you are still continuing to build this relationship with them, but make sure you don’t get stuck there. Depending on your personality, it can be extremely nerve-racking introducing yourself to someone you’ve never met before, but if you don’t do this then you will never make new connections. You don’t have to talk to everyone in the room, but try and branch out to meet at least a few new people each time.

Remember to take your business cards

Make sure you’ve got plenty of business cards to hand out so that you can give them to anyone you talk to and those you may want to follow up with you. If you have no means of giving out your contact details then you can’t expect someone to go out of their way to find you again afterwards. A good quality business card looks much more professional than scribbling your number on a piece of paper.

The GOLDEN RULE of follow up

If you make a great connection at a business networking event and promise to send them something afterwards or arrange a meeting with them, make sure you do it. If you forget to follow up on something you promised then they will either think you are unreliable, or they will simply forget about you. That’s a potentially valuable connection lost!

Follow these 5 tips at networking events to make the right kind of connections. Good quality business connections can lead to a massive increase in business from referrals, so don’t see it as a waste of time or a break from your working day. If you want any more advice on networking why not get in touch with me on 01522 801 845 or send me an email on mark@bnieastmidlands.co.uk

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