Classic Video: One Simple Rule for a Winning Approach to Networking

I have been doing video blogs for quite a few years now and a while back it occurred to me that some of the videos I’ve previously posted focus on timeless topics that deserve to be revisited and not buried way back in the video blog archive.  For this reason, I decided to occasionally feature a “classic” video blog from my blog archive and today I am sharing the sixth one–”One Simple Rule to a Winning Approach at Netwoking.” In this video, I talk to UK networking expert Charlie Lawson about the Networking Disconnect which commonly hinders the success of many who attend networking events and mixers.

Charlie explains that the Disconnect can be avoided all together by following one simple rule that will get your networking approach and intent geared in the right direction.  I’ll give you a hint–it involves big fish and coffee. 😉

After watching the video, come back and comment about your experience(s) with the Networking Disconnect (trust me, we’ve all had some experience with it) and what you think about the advice Charlie offers in the video . . . looking forward to hearing from you!

Can You Pinpoint the Benefits of Your Product or Service?

Sales training often teaches us that customers make buying decisions based on (1) their emotions (“Sell the sizzle, not the steak!”) and (2) the value the product or service brings to them.  Marketing specialists capitalize on customers’ emotion-based buying habits.  Customers choose a product or service based on its benefits, not its features.  The features are simply the bare-bones facts–the elements or significant parts–of the product or service.  The benefits are its value to the customer–how it will solve their problems, eliminate their pain, and make life glorious.

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

To understand the difference between features and benefits, let’s think about a car:

Features of a car

  • V-6 engine, dual exhaust, front-wheel drive, sunroof, significant interior legroom, heated seats, heated glass

Benefits of those features

  • V-6 engine–ability to pull onto the highway without hesitation (and to impress your friends)
  • Dual exhausts–higher fuel efficiency and more power (and it sounds groovy and also impresses your friends)
  • Front-wheel drive–more interior room because of the lack of a driveshaft tunnel
  • Sunroof–the open feel of a convertible with the safety and security of a sedan
  • Legroom–greater comfort while driving long distances and more room for your growing family
  • Heated seats–cozy motoring on frigid days and nights; greater back comfort on long-distance trips
  • Heated glass–the convenience of not having to scrape icy windows in the winter

The more perceived value a benefit offers, the higher it gets ranked in your decision to purchase.  Objectively, a sunroof is not a significant feature, but if it makes you feel a bit like a race car driver, perhaps that benefit raises its value for you.  Heated seats are nice too, but they might not rank high in value for to people who live in a warm climate and wouldn’t strongly influence their buying decision.  The benefits of dual exhausts, however, might have perceived value for all buyers–better fuel efficiency, more power, and a sound like your beloved but departed ’57 Chevy.

What does all this have to do with your referral marketing message?  Simply this:  Most businesspeople, without thinking about it, talk in terms of features.  As professional experts and salespeople, that’s what they’re most familiar with.  They’re not accustomed to looking at their products or services from a customer’s perspective.

In formulating the message you want your networking partners to convey, your challenge is to put yourself in the customer’s place.  What are the benefits of your product or service?  How will it make the customer’s life or business easier, more comfortable, more satisfying, more profitable?  How can you shorten and simplify your message so that others can communicate these benefits more clearly and surely?

Now that you have a good understanding of the difference between features and benefits, I hope you’ll come back next week to read the follow-up blog post I’ll be doing which will teach show you exactly how to zero in on the benefits of your business.  Until then, if you have any questions about features vs. benefits or any thoughts you’d like to share regarding this post, please leave a comment in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

The Four-Letter Word That Should Be in Every Networker’s Vocabulary

“Sell” may be a four-letter word, but it’s certainly not a “bad” word . . . far from it.  “Sell” is a word that should be in absolutely every networker’s vocabulary.

 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run across businesspeople over the years who are fantastic networkers, but they think that just because they know how to network, they don’t need to know how to sell. They think that people will like them, and then their products or services will sell themselves. This kind of mentality is unfortunate because people who think this way may be leaving business on the table.

Anybody who’s experienced and successful in referral marketing will tell you that sales skills are needed in every part of the referral marketing process–not just in closing the sale with the prospect.

From the very beginning, you must sell yourself to your potential referral source. A referral is not a guaranteed sale; it’s the opportunity to do business with someone to whom you’ve been recommended. You still have to close the deal. You have to make it clear that you know how to sell, and that you can and will provide the products or services you’re expected to provide. If you can’t make that first “sale,” your potential referral source won’t become your referral provider.

Beyond selling yourself to the referral source, you have to sell yourself to the prospect to get that first appointment. Then, once you’ve made the appointment, you have to persuade the prospect to buy your product or service. This is the part that usually comes to mind when you hear the word “sell.” However, in referral marketing, closing the deal with your prospect is neither the beginning nor the end of the selling process. The sales process is all about keeping an ongoing relationship with the client or customer. This is something that the best referral marketers know and understand.

 What are some of the tactics you use to continually sharpen your sales skills and/or ensure that you continually invest in an ongoing relationship with your clients/customers to actively keep the sales process afloat?  I’d love for you to share your thoughts and ideas in the comment forum below–thanks!

The Darkside of the VCP Process®

The dark side of the VCP Process® occurs when people get disconnected from what networking is really all about–they’re not carrying out the VCP Process as it is meant to be carried out and that’s when everything goes wrong.

As I mentioned in the video blog I posted last week, Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I are currently working together on a book about networking.  Today’s video is, again, one of several short videos I’ll be posting which cover networking topics that we will be focusing on in the book.  These videos are the result of brainstorming sessions for the book and in this particular video, I explain the networking disconnect–the unfortunate occurrence which takes place when everybody comes to a networking event to sell yet nobody comes to buy.

If you have a story relating to the ‘networking disconnect’ which fits the criteria I describe in the video, please visit www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com to submit your story for a chance to be published in the upcoming book on networking that Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I will be publishing.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

Speak to Be Heard and Hear to Know How to Speak

Peter Drucker once said, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”  This is so true and extremely important because the quality of our relationships depends on the quality of our communications; and when it comes to sales for your business and growing your business through referral marketing, this concept is a cornerstone for success.

Of course, not all sales transactions require incredible relationships or communication (e.g., online shopping), yet even big box stores like Wal-Mart–not known for warm customer relations–illustrate the value they place on communication and relationships by employing a visitor host to greet customers at the entrance of their stores.

Sara Minnis, a friend of mine, has often dealt with a phobia many sales people face within the sales process by coaching salespeople who are afraid of being rejected by a prospect or customer.  She says, “Sales ‘phobics’ might have an unrealistic fear of being rejected during cold calling, during the closing phase, or on a phone conversation.”  This, she suggests, is because the phobic salesperson tends to focus their communication on the emotional fit between themselves and the customer.  She explains, “The real business of selling can’t begin until the sales phobic feels that the prospect likes him or her.”  To avoid this, she says, “The professional seller directs her communication toward finding a fit between her product and the buyer’s need.  Focusing on being liked only enhances fears of personal rejection, while attending to the customer’s needs drives the transaction toward a closed deal.”

Sellers in strong relationships with their clients have a competitive advantage because the client feels connected or bonded to the seller.  The single most important tool sellers use to establish a connecting bond with another person is communication.  In fact, building a bonded relationship is completely dependent on having quality communications with another individual.

The art and science of communication is more than talking and hearing words.  There are many strategies and techniques aimed at earning the right to have your message heard.  If you can communicate at a level that matches the customer’s style rather than your own, you will be well on your way to masterful sales conversations.

Masters of sales today assume more of a consultative perspective to their selling work.  In fact, many box retail stores use the term “sales consultant” to describe the store clerk of yesterday.  Master sales consultants know that their ability to communicate is critical to selling client solutions, because rapport and trust, the cornerstones of selling, are built or lost based on communication.

So what can you do this week to improve your communication skills in order to speak to be heard and hear to know how to speak (e.g., joining a Toastmasters club, reading books like Dr. Mark Goulston’s Just Listen, etc.)?  I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment forum below

Facts Tell, But Stories Sell

Over the past few weeks, I’ve posted blogs on how embracing quality, adding members, and seeking engagement are all things that will help networkers and entire networking groups achieve success.  Today, I’d like to talk about an additional tactic for obtaining stellar networking results–sharing stories.

Listening closely to the information shared by those in your referral network will help you in telling positive stories about them when you come across potential opportunities to refer them.  Conducting regular one-to-one meetings with each of your networking partners will also help you become more able to share stories when you refer others to them.  Think about your many positive experiences with your fellow networkers and write them down.

A number of years ago, I met Robert Dickman, author of The Elements of Persuasion, and he taught me the formula for a good story:

  1. A story is a fact
  2. Wrapped in emotion
  3. That compels us to take action
  4. That transforms us in some way

The key here is that a good story compels people to take action and that this action transforms or helps them in some way.  I always try to re-live a story, not just re-tell a story.  Make it sound fresh and alive.  That is an important aspect of storytelling.

Remember that facts tell, but stories sell.  If you want to build your network in order to generate more referrals, overlay storytelling on top of your efforts.

The keys to success within networking groups which I’ve previously posted blogs about (embracing quality, adding members, seeking engagement) can combine with sharing stories for a powerful formula that will help members of networking groups obtain optimum networking results and business growth:

3+1 = Member Success

  • 1-Embrace Quality
  • 2-Add Members
  • 3-Seek Engagement
  • +1 Share Stories

Understanding this formula can improve your business networking success in amazing ways. 

If your networking group already employs this formula, I’d love to hear about the impact it has made on your group’s performance and results.  Please share your feedback (and stories) in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

One Simple Rule for a Winning Approach to Networking

In this video, Networking expert Charlie Lawson talks with me about the Networking Disconnect which commonly hinders the success of many who attend networking events and mixers.

Charlie explains that the Disconnect can be avoided all together by following one simple rule that will get your networking approach and intent geared in the right direction.  I’ll give you a hint–it involves big fish and coffee. 😉

After watching the video, come back and comment about your experience(s) with the Networking Disconnect (trust me, we’ve all had some experience with it) and what you think about the advice Charlie offers in the video . . . looking forward to hearing from you!

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