Facts Tell, Stories Sellstring(24) "Facts Tell, Stories Sell"

Stories can be incredibly powerful in business, and in business networking. My friend Charlie Lawson, who calls himself The Unnatural Networker, shared his perspective on why stories are powerful tools that can help people be more memorable at networking meetings and events. He told me the following story as an example.

The Travel Agent and the Honeymoon

Marie is a travel agent and BNI® Member in the United Kingdom (UK). She was in her office on a Friday afternoon, it was almost 6:00 pm and she was thinking about the upcoming weekend and dinner with her friends. Her mind wasn’t focused on doing business as she reached the end of the workweek.

However, a call came into the office and there was a lady on the other end of the line who was very upset. She was crying and Marie asked her, “What’s going on? How can I help?” Well, this lady was getting married the next day, Saturday, and then was supposed to fly off on her honeymoon on Sunday – from the UK to the Caribbean. But the problem, the reason she was upset, was because there were no flights to the Caribbean. There was a strike; there were no flights, there was nothing going on. Effectively, the honeymoon was ruined. And she was calling Marie to say, “Look, I know it’s last minute. But is there anything you could do?”

Marie didn’t want to promise anything because this truly was last minute, so she said, “Let me see what I can do.” And she asked one question: “Where are you going to be tomorrow morning? Where will you be in the morning before your wedding?” The lady replied, “I’ll be getting ready at my mom’s house.” She gave Marie the address and the call ended.

Then Marie called a couple of her contacts. She went online and managed to source the exact same type of honeymoon – she got the same spec hotel, same date, same budget, she even found some of the same excursions that the couple had previously planned. The only difference was that it wasn’t in the Caribbean. It was in Hawaii, in the U.S.

The next morning, she went to see the lady at her mom’s house, handed her a package and said, “You are all set to go tomorrow. The tickets normally have a £150 late-booking fee, but that’s my wedding present to you. I hope you have a wonderful time in Hawaii, and a lovely day today.”

But wait, the story didn’t end there. Three weeks later, Marie received a postcard while at her office. On one side on the card was an idyllic Hawaiian beachside scene. And the other side had a few short words, “We don’t know what we would have done without you.”

After Charlie finished the story, he then asked me if I thought I would refer business to Marie based on that story. I said, “Absolutely, no question about it.”

Remembered, Recalled, Referred

When you tell stories like this at networking meetings or at your BNI weekly chapter meeting, they help you to be remembered, recalled, and referred by your fellow networkers. When you tell a really good story, other people are able to repeat it, even if it didn’t happen to them. They could say, “There’s a great travel agent. I have a friend, this is an experience she had.” They remember the story, and are able to recall and tell the story, almost word for word, because it was detailed and powerful.

Charlie says that good storytelling is like making a recipe – baking a cake, for example. You have an ingredients list and directions for how to put the right ingredients together in the proper order for the best results.

Six ingredients for a powerful story:

1. Problem
There has to be a problem. It’s as simple as that. If there isn’t a problem, some sort of issue or challenge, you haven’t got a story. There must be a problem that needs to be overcome.

2. Solution
There’s got to be a solution as well. Sometimes we think that the solution is always going to be a happy ending; keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily resolve in that way every time. However, we’ve got to see the problem sorted out in some way during the story.

3. Structure
You need to have some structure to the story – a start, middle, and end.
Start with the Setup. This is where you lay out the problem, introduce the characters – who’s in it, what’s the issue? What are they going through? Where are they?

The middle is about what you did. Talk about how you, the professional, helped them and solved their problem.

End with the Afters. What happened after the story finished? Did everyone sail off happily into the sunset? Was there an agreeable alternative? Or did you need to refer them to someone else for the proper resolution?
**See more about the Structure below.

4. Emotion
This is key. When people feel the emotion, when they feel what the person in the story is going through – what they’re feeling and the challenges they’re facing, they can put themselves in their shoes and really understand the situation.

5. Characterization
Talk about the people in the story, the ‘characters’ such as the goodie, the baddie, the person who can solve the problem. Sometimes the baddie isn’t a James Bond-style-villain, it may be metaphorical. In Marie’s story, the baddie is the situation of not being able to go on a honeymoon. A compelling story needs to have all those characters.

6. Details
A memorable story has a couple of details to bring people into it. In Marie’s story, we know what time of day the bride-to-be contacted her and what Marie was thinking about right before the call came in. Beware of overdoing it with details, too many can make it unwieldy and hard to follow.

Focus on What is Important

**This is more information about #3, the Structure.

In the three sections of the Structure, the setup, what you did, and the afters, you need to weight your story appropriately. Charlie says that this is where many people often miss the mark in their storytelling. They put too much emphasis on the “what you did” part. He recommends that you weight the importance of these three sections in percentage terms.

The Setup:      47½% of importance.
What You Did:  5% of importance.
The Afters:      47½% of importance.

Yes, you read that correctly. Only 5% of the importance in the story comes from what you did. As Charlie shared, here’s the thing – what you do is actually quite boring. Yes, understandably what you do is your life’s work and your business, and you love it. However, from a storytelling point of view, and to get others to refer new customers to you, what you do and how you do it is the least interesting part for those listening.

Your fellow networkers want to hear about how the client felt. How did they feel beforehand? They were obviously worried about something or upset about something, or had an issue, or needed something sorted. How did they feel afterwards? Yes, you saved them time and money. Were they happy? Relieved? Safe? The part that’s important in Marie’s story is that she helped them go on their honeymoon when they thought they could not. It’s those bits that create the emotion and get people remembering and recalling your story. It’s less about what you do, and much more about how the client felt about you and what you did, both before and after. That’s the key to a good story.

All of those ingredients, in the proper proportions, go into making a great story. It takes some work and practice to make it happen. Focus your stories on the goal to be remembered, recalled, and referred.

Storytelling is more interesting, memorable, and referable than simple facts about the products and services that you offer.
We can all use facts to TELL others about our products and services. It is the stories we tell that SELL people on thinking of you the next time they hear someone with a need or problem that you can help with.

 

 

 

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Slowing Down or Speeding Upstring(27) "Slowing Down or Speeding Up"

There’s an old story about speeding up or slowing down that I would like to share on my blog today.

An Airbus 380 is flying over the Atlantic Ocean, maintaining a steady speed of 800 km/h at an altitude of 30,000 feet. Suddenly, a Eurofighter with Tempo Mach 2 appears alongside it.

The pilot of the fighter jet slows down and flies parallel to the Airbus. Using the radio, they greet the pilot of the passenger plane by saying, “Hey there, having a boring flight with your Airbus? Let me show you something!”

The fighter jet rolls onto its back, accelerates forward, breaks through the sound barrier, ascends rapidly to an exhilarating height and then swiftly dives down almost to sea level in a thrilling maneuver. It then loops back next to the Airbus and asks eagerly, “So, what do you think?”

The pilot of the Airbus responds calmly but appreciatively; “That was quite impressive! Now it’s your turn to take a look.”

The jet pilot watches attentively as the Airbus continues to fly steadily straight ahead with its unchanged speed. After 15 minutes pass by without any extraordinary actions from the Airbus, its pilot radios back saying humorously, “Well now, how did you find that?”

Perplexed and curious about what just happened, the jet pilot asks in confusion; “What did you do?”

With a cheerful laugh in their voice, the Airbus pilot replies; “Oh well! I just took advantage of some free time. I stood up from my seat to stretch my legs and walked towards the rear of our aircraft to use the restroom. Then I made myself a cup of coffee and treated myself to a delicious chocolate fudge pastry.”

The lesson to be learned from this story is that when you’re young, the thrill of speed and adrenaline can seem appealing. However, as you grow older and gain wisdom, you realize that comfort and peace hold greater significance. This concept is often referred to as S.O.S.; Slower, Older, but Smarter.
This message is dedicated to my readers who see the value in slowing down.

International Networking Week 2024string(34) "International Networking Week 2024"

In 2007, BNI® launched an initiative called International Networking Week® which is held during the first week of February every year.

International Networking Week began as a way to help business leaders around the world connect with each other and build their networking skills together. The goal is to recognize the power of networking and celebrate its key role in the development and success of businesses across the globe.

It is about creating an awareness relating to the process of what I call “relationship networking,” an approach to doing business based on building long-term, successful, and mutually beneficial relationships through the networking process.

Watch this video to learn about the 18th annual event February 4-10, 2024.

How to Be Part of International Networking Week

Everyone is invited to take part in local and global events happening February 4th – 10th. Register for a local networking event, reconnect with a former colleague or customer, or visit a BNI Chapter.

BNI Members and Directors can participate in virtual and in-person Speed Networking events to connect with businesspeople in your region, country or from around the world.

Help us reach our collective goal of 500,000 1-2-1 meetings in a week by completing five 1-2-1s with other BNI members between February 4-10, 2024. (Do at least ONE 1-2-1 that week to be part of the record.😊)

And share your stories about how networking has impacted your business and your life. Use #INW2024 to connect with others and celebrate the incredible breakthroughs that come from networking.

 

I believe that networking is not only a great way to get business, it is a great way to DO business. International Networking Week celebrates relationship networking which is about creating long-term relationships to build your business. Mark your calendar and be part of this special event! www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com

Remember: It’s Not Net-Sit or Net-Eat — It’s Called Networkstring(65) "Remember: It’s Not Net-Sit or Net-Eat — It’s Called Network"

I came up with the phrase, “It’s Not Net-Sit or Net-Eat — It’s Called Network” back in 1985 when I went to a business mixer and witnessed virtually every person either sitting along the edges of the room or standing around eating and drinking.  There was almost no one who was actually networking. It struck me like a bolt of lightning that this was supposed to be a “networking” event, but people were just eating and drinking (especially the latter)! As a result, before the first mixer that I personally organized, I went to a printer and had my new phrase printed up on little signs and put them all around the room to remind people why they were there.

I also came up with the original version of the 10 Commandments of Networking which I printed and posted around the room at that event.

The 10 Commandments of Networking

  1. Always have the tools to network with you (business cards, name badge, etc.).
  2. Set a goal for the number of people you will meet.
  3. Act like a host, rather than acting like a guest.
  4. Listen to people and ask questions about what they do.
  5. Don’t try to sell to them.
  6. Give referrals whenever possible.
  7. Exchange business cards.
  8. Manage your time efficiently.
  9. Write notes about your conversation.
  10. Follow up!

The last thing I did before the event got fully underway was to tell everyone that it’s ok to come to a networking event with someone you know or a co-worker; just don’t hang around with that person the whole time.

What a difference in networking events!  By just giving a little guidance to the participants, the event was much more successful than the ones I’d seen in the past. So GET UP, get off your phones, and network!

 

 

 

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Top 5 Blogs of 2023string(19) "Top 5 Blogs of 2023"

These are my Top 5 blogs of 2023 based on YOUR visits to my website.

 

 

Last year’s favorites included BNI’s 38th anniversary in January and International Networking Week 2023 in February.

My 10 Tips for Networking Success at a Business Mixer was a popular blog, too. So was The Prima Donna Syndrome blog – how to recognize it and helpful strategies for interactions with people who display those traits.

Also in the Top 5 was a good reminder that Today is the Tomorrow you were worried about Yesterday. Remember, it is up to us to make the most of every day.

I appreciate everyone who reads & visits my blog – thank you!

Which one was your favorite?

 

Happy New Year – 2024string(23) "Happy New Year – 2024"

Today is the first day of the new year.  It symbolizes a fresh start and the opportunity to move forward in bigger and better ways.

Every December, I take time to reflect on the past year, then make a strategic plan and vision for the year ahead. Here are three things you can do to create your vision for 2024:

  1. Dream Big. Create your vision for the upcoming year.
  2. Make a Plan. Outline the ways that you achieve your vision.
  3. Take Action. Determine when and how you will do the things in your plan.

May the New Year be filled with good health, prosperity, and happiness for you and your family. Wishing you all the best in 2024!

THIS is the Futurestring(18) "THIS is the Future"

In 2018, I wrote an article for Entrepreneur.com where I said that in ten years or so, holographic meetings would be the future and it now appears the future is getting closer.  I said that I believe the future of face-to-face networking is online, and we’ve now had our first BNI meeting with a hologram!

Two weeks ago, BNI United Arab Emirates National Director, Anuradhha Shah, shared a post on my social media with some video snippets of the holographic images of the BNI Insomniacs Chapter’s President.

Some variation of this is the future (and I still want to be Obi Wan Kenobi when it is).

 

 

 

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Why Mixed Reality Meetings of the Future Will Be Face-to-Face

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Office Party Dos and Don’tsstring(33) "Office Party Dos and Don’ts"

Sure, everyone wants to have a little fun at the office holiday party. But when there’s an open bar involved, bad behavior can follow . . .

Don’t forget that anytime you are among coworkers, you are being evaluated. You’ve got a chance to be memorable. Make sure it’s for a good reason!

Here are some tips to help you have fun at your next office party.

How to Avoid Making a Bad Impression

Drinking too much and making a fool of yourself is just one of the major DON’TS at your work party. Here are a couple more:

  • Whatever you do, don’t go negative. That sounds obvious, but it happens all the time, especially if you’re nervous. Don’t complain about how busy you are, how the bartender messed up your drink, or how bad the traffic is on the way in to work. You want to be remembered, but not as the person who is always negative.
  • Don’t be a suck up.Executives appreciate knowing their work makes a difference but don’t “puppy-dog lick” them to death. Instead, share a specific story about how their big wins this year helped someone or made a difference in the work you do at the company.

Small Talk is a Critical Business Skill

Here are some business networking skills that will make you shine for all the right reasons.

Office gatherings are a very good place to discuss collaborative or co-creative projects, which is the subject of my latest book, The 3rd Paradigm, is all about.  Holiday parties are a good time to set the stage for future co-creation. You can also scout out people who would be good partners in a project, or even try out different communication strategies critical to the future of work co-creation.

These are my five tips for becoming good at small talk.

  1. Here’s an important point that most people may not realize: You don’t have to know anything about the topic to converse about the topic or to ask questions about it! Take a few minutes each day to browse enough headlines to arm with some knowledge of current events, pop culture, and yes, even sports. (I strongly recommend that you avoid talking about politics or religion at business networking events.)
  2. In one of my books, I wrote about a very savvy networker, Susan RoAne, who – though she had literally zero interest in sports – read the sports section in her newspaper from cover to cover every single day. “Why on earth would you subject herself to this?” I asked her (as I am admittedly not a sports fan either). She replied, “My networking functions are primarily attended by men. I don’t want to stay on the sidelines while important conversations are going on, conversations that invariable start with a discussion about last night’s game.”
  3. By asking questions about the topic, you make the person you’re talking to feel like an expert! However, you must listen attentively. Stay engaged in the conversation; don’t scan the room for the next person you want to talk with and don’t wave at someone you know while the person you are with is talking.
  4. Talk about something current in the news. It’s probally easier you think. Mobile, reputable news sites have set up their pages with easy to read, convenient categories, such as Top News, Sports, Entertainment, Tech, and more. Either at night or first thing in the morning, take a few minutes to read the headlines, and maybe the first 1-2 sentences.
  5. When you are having a conversation with a new contact or fellow networker at an event, follow the stream of thought like the roots of a tree. Go deeper on the topic by asking those relevant questions, maintain eye contact, and self-check your body language every so often.

Six Ways to Remember Someone’s Name

  1. Stop the Name-Shaming. Let’s break this vicious cycle of saying “I’m bad at remembering names.” If you keep telling yourself you’re bad at something, your brain is going to believe it and throw in the towel before the networking event even begins. So, let’s all raise our imaginary glasses and toast to a new mantra: “I’ve got this. I can be better at remembering names.”
  2. Repetition Repertoire. Imagine this: You’re introduced to someone, they say their name is Jamison, and you think, “Alright, Jamison, got it.” Fast forward five seconds, and it’s like your brain just performed a vanishing act. The solution? Repetition! Ask them to say their name one more time, like you’re savoring the sound. “Jamison”, then, if appropriate, say something relevant to the moment like: “that’s a memorable name, why did your parents name you that?”
  3. The Name Ninja Technique. You’ve nailed the repetition, but now what? Integrate their name into the conversation. Say things like; “How did you hear about tonight’s event Jamison?” As you continue to talk make sure to respond a couple times using their name as appropriate. “Wow, that sounds amazing Jamison!”  Towards the end of the conversation ask them what social media platform they are most active on. Then, ask for one of their business cards and make a note as to the social media platform that they like to use. The conversation and the business card will help anchor their name in your mind.
  4. Association Amusement Park. For some people, remembering names is like playing a wild game of word association. So, if you meet a Jamison who’s really into football and travel, picture this: Jamison wearing a football helmet, kicking a suitcase across a field while shouting travel tips. Vivid mental images stick like peanut butter to the roof of your brain. Bonus points if it makes you chuckle in the middle of a serious conversation.

    Whatever form of association you make, dedicate the name to memory. Make associations in your mind.  Write notes… When you are back home, review your meeting and try to remember what that person looked like and what they were saying and doing. You may want to send a quick “nice to meet you” message online to help you remember the conversation you had with them.

  5. The Phonetic Finesse. If you’ve ever stumbled over someone’s name like it’s a tongue-twister on steroids, try this technique. Ask them if there’s a particular way they prefer their name to be pronounced. Not only will you earn extra points for courtesy, but you’ll also have a unique mnemonic device to remember their name. For example, if they say, “It’s actually pronounced ‘Jay-muh-sun,'” you’ll forever think of them pronouncing their name.
  6. The Visual Anchor. For some people, associating the person’s name with a distinctive feature of their appearance is helpful. If Jamison has striking green eyes, imagine him surrounded by jam jars made of emerald glass. This technique capitalizes on the power of visual memory, making it easier to recall their name by conjuring up their unique physical trait.

Bonus Tip: The Greeting Gambit. Saying “it’s nice to see you” instead of “it’s nice to meet you” is rooted in the idea that many social encounters are not actually the first time you’ve seen someone. In today’s interconnected world, you might have come across someone’s photos or posts on social media (yes, it happens, I’ve had someone who felt bad that I didn’t remember them from our social media connection), you may have heard about them from mutual friends, or even seen them in a previous event, webinar, or video call. By acknowledging this, you’re not treating the encounter as completely new but rather as a continuation of a relationship, no matter how brief or distant. Plus – this has the added benefit of not offending someone that you’ve previously met.

For example, there was the wife of a business associate who was once at a party at my home.  Many months later, I ran into her at a grocery store which of course, was a completely different context.  I recognized her face, but I had no idea where I knew her from.  When she came up and said hello, I said, “hi, it’s great to see you.”  She then went on to talk about how much she enjoyed the party and voila – it immediately came back to me where I met her.

Office parties can be lots of fun and great for building business relationships. Remember to honor the event; be aware of the purpose and focus of the gathering. Relax, smile, meet new people and use the tips and reminders above to make your office party a positive and memorable one.

Going Out of Business Sale: No Returnsstring(38) "Going Out of Business Sale: No Returns"

Guest Blog
Dr. Mark Goulston is a longtime friend and 
podcast and blog post contributor to BNI and an even closer personal friend to me. He thought you and I might find this contribution interesting and helpful. I know I have.

Dear Ivan and BNI Friends,

I thought the above title was more upbeat and would grab your attention more than the other one I’ve been doing many interviews about, namely, “I’m dying to tell you.”

That’s because I have a serious and potentially terminal illness that is daily teaching me more important lessons about everything, from life to business and back, than living ever did. I have an urgency to share them because my treatments – chemotherapy followed by a Bone Marrow Transplant – might result in some long term cognitive impairment – which I had a taste of today. If that happens, my creativity and language skills may take a hit and if so, I will try to be a good sport and be the doting parent, grandparent and husband that I am doing my best to be already.

BTW don’t feel sorry for me, I am the most content and at peace I have ever been in my life. When people try to pump me up with well-intentioned (and because they don’t know what else to say) statements like, “You gotta have a positive attitude,” I reply with, “I am positive and optimistic (hey, if Ivan can pull through everything he’s been through, so can I) and I’ll trade you the utter peace of mind I have now that I have been chasing for 70 years for positive attitude any day.” I think accepting that I might die – although I’m not being passive about my treatment – has enabled me to let go of having to live which is more peaceful than not accepting I might die and not letting go of having to live and becoming consumed with that.

Here are a few lessons I have learned that I will try to make relevant to you and your life and business.

  1. A matter of life and death for me and you. Have the best team and partners you can have in business, in marriage and in life where you have each others’ back, can fully depend and rely on, be optimistic and yet fully honest with. I don’t think I would be at such peace if I didn’t have the best doctor I have ever known or had (the guy has 260+ 5 star patient reviews – that’s a unicorn among unicorns). If I had gone with the brilliant, but arrogant MD I saw before who I would be afraid to ask questions or share my deepest concerns with, I wouldn’t be nearly at so much peace. Don’t settle for anyone less in your business and in your life.
  2. Michelangelo Dying. Michelangelo famously said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set it free.” Well I saw what was the most important inside all the unimportant stuff (and there was a bunch). And when I carved away what was unimportant, what became important completely shined through. And one of those was friendships with people like Ivan, so we have made a commitment to catch up at least every two months.
  3. Visionary Dying. For a year and half I did a one man show (written, produced, directed and starring me) called “Steve Jobs Returns,” where I played Jobs from 1996 when he returned to Apple to 2007 when he introduced the iPhone (here is an animated excerpted video clip from one performance). At any rate when I played him I discovered 3 D’s of Visionary Thinking:
    a. Define Reality beyond what’s possible and beyond what’s even imaginable, such as a Macintosh computer with a mouse and graphical user interface that would put a personal computer on everyone’s desk.
    b. Declare Intention to make it happen where Jobs reinforced that with his famous Reality Distortion Field that he got everyone else to believe because he did.
    c. Decide Strategy on how to make it happen with the participation of people like his partner Steve Wozniak and later on designers such as Jony Ive (here’s my favorite video clip of what Jobs taught Jony that still rings true).

For me, my Visionary Dying involves:
a. Defining Reality of what a good death is and I hit all the criteria from my late mentor Dr. Edwin Shneidman except living until 90 and being as little a pain in the rear to your family as possible (I guess you’ll have to ask them).

b. Declaring Intention to make it so.

c. Deciding Strategy which is living the criteria of A Good Death, assembling the best medical team around me, helping my family adjust to this chapter in my life.

Thank you my dear friend Ivan, and my BNI friends, if you have taken the time to read this. And if you have, I hope you will check out my “I’m dying to tell you” YouTube and TikTok video series and if you find them helpful, I hope you will give me the gift of sharing them with people you think might also feel the same.

Until we meet again (and rumors of my demise which I may have started may hopefully be exaggerated), take good care of yourself and the people you love.

Finally, perhaps what gives me the most peace of mind is knowing that everyone who has ever lived has died and if they can do it, so can I.

Understanding the Buyer’s Perspectivestring(39) "Understanding the Buyer’s Perspective"

One time when I was traveling, I met someone with whom I had a very interesting conversation about sales. I was sitting at an airport waiting for my plane and started talking with the young man sitting next to me. He was wearing a nice suit, was equipped with a laptop, and looked like he was traveling for work. I asked if he was going to the same business event I was going to; he was not. However, during our conversation he said that he was new to the sales industry and found it somewhat difficult to achieve the level of success he had envisioned for himself when he first got into his profession. I offered some advice to him and I’m going to share it here with you, too.

I believe one of the most important keys to selling is understanding the buyer’s perspective.

Selling has everything to do with finding out what the customer wants, what they are able to pay for, and then making the deal (with the assumption that you can provide the service and/or product they want). Yet, this process is far from straightforward. If it were truly that simple, there would be no demand for salespeople; buyers could get everything they need from a machine.

Many buyers embark on their purchasing journey with only vague ideas of what they may need. Turning a buyer’s vagueness into clear solutions is the job of the salesperson. It is also their job to remember that the buyer is looking for the best possible solution for their needs, delivered to them in an effective and pleasurable manner.

It is crucial to recognize that buyers are multifaceted, and they are going to weigh the pros and cons of any potential purchase. Some considerations are shared openly with the seller, while others are kept to themselves. Adapting to the buyer’s unspoken thoughts and progressing towards a satisfying conclusion represents a complex and intricate task that rests on the shoulders of the adept sales professional. As we step into an era of heightened consumer awareness and digital empowerment, understanding the nuances of the buyer’s perspective requires a blend of traditional acumen and contemporary insights.

The Sales Clock

My friend Brian Roach, a computer technology expert, told me about a concept he calls the sales clock, which he described like this:

It’s a great day. You answered a call from a new prospect, met with their team to discuss your product, and . . . they asked you for a proposal. Soon after delivering your proposal, you started your wait for their decision. The sales clock ticks as you wait on the fate of your proposal. It may tick a long time before hearing back from the customer, and as the seller, you don’t know if you are being ‘stiffed’ or if the customer is swamped with other pressing priorities. Whatever the reason, waiting out the sales clock can be stressful. The last thing you want is for your own stress to create a negative impact on your prospect.

Brian reminds us that ‘it’s all about the customer,’ in the sense that they are the ultimate buyer. And yet the seller also must earn a wage or commission, meet monthly targets, and ensure proper scheduling for the workload. The waiting period after proposal submission remains a source of stress for sellers awaiting the prospective client’s decision. In this evolved sales clock, time ticks not only in hours but in the real-time interactions that occur across diverse digital platforms.

Sellers must now navigate the intricacies of a digitally connected world. The customer’s perspective is shaped by instantaneous responses, personalized interactions, and the seamless integration of online and offline experiences. Brian’s sales clock reminds us to always look at both the customer’s perspective as well as the seller’s demands with each sales scenario.

Tapping into the Customer’s Perspective

I have some tactics to help you as the seller determine if the buyer is putting you off or simply attending to other pressing business demands. I am also sharing some effective communication techniques which will help you tap into the customer’s perspective.

  1. Attentive Listening:

Actively listen to what they are saying without thinking ahead to what you are going to say next. Focus on them, their words, and their body language to discern whether they are genuinely disinterested or perhaps preoccupied with other matters.

  1. Understand Behavioral Styles:

Learning about behavioral styles gives you knowledge about how to craft your sales interactions to the style of communication that is most comfortable to the client. All people like to be communicated with in a manner that is most familiar to them, and this helps you customize a sales approach for each unique individual.

  1. Product Presentation:

The product presentation is one form of customer communication that has a strong influence on a successful sale.

Andy Bounds, a sales communication expert from England, reminds us that the
“ . . . prospect is really interested in the total opposite of most commonly delivered product presentations. The prospect only cares about his or her own present and future, whereas most presentations focus on the seller’s past and on the product features.” Andy reminds us to talk about what the product will do for the customer rather than its features. His favorite phrase is, “Customers don’t care what you do; they care about what they’re left with AFTER you’ve done it.” He uses the word “after” to keep the product presentation focused on the customer’s needs, and recommends these customer-oriented questions:

  • “What are you looking to achieve after our work together?”
  • “What would success look like to you as a result of this project?”
  • “Looking back a year from now, what will need to happen for you to think things have gone brilliantly?”

Nothing works perfectly every time; being able to read the customer’s buying signals is crucial to making necessary course corrections that meet the customer’s top-of-mind concerns.

The state of the selling art allows masterful salespeople to combine a little science with human relation strategies to create a wonderful buying experience for the consumer, while still maximizing the seller’s commission. 

As a business professional, you want to craft a positive buying experience while also making it a seamless and memorable journey for the consumer. Timing remains as crucial as ever, and mastering these strategies and techniques is imperative for sellers to address today’s customers effectively by understanding and respecting their perspective.

Networking Success = Understanding Your Businessstring(48) "Networking Success = Understanding Your Business"

Building a successful business involves establishing a strong network AND having a profound understanding of your own business, too. Let’s talk about key strategies for effective business networking and delve into the importance of you knowing your business top-to-bottom and inside out.

If you’re having a hard time building your network because people seem confused about, or unable to relate to, your business, the first step is to articulate your business in a way that’s easily understood by others.

Essential Questions About You and Your Business

  • Why are you in business (other than to make a living)? Why do you do what you do? How does your business serve others?

Get clear on your personal “why.” It is the reason you do the things that you do; it is the reason you do the things that you are passionate about.

  • What do you sell? Most important, what are the benefits – not the features – of your products or services?

Prospective clients, and your referral partners, want to know how you and your business can solve their problem or fill their need. Customers don’t care about what you do; they care about what their situation will be AFTER you’ve done it. They need to hear the benefits of working with you.

  • Who are your customers? What are your target markets?

Be specific. Look at all segments of your business to determine the niche or niches you prefer to work with. The target market that you focus on and talk about is the type of referral that your networking partners will give to you. Identify the customers you love working with and share that information with your network.

  • What are your core competencies, and what do you do best? How well do you compete? How do you stand out from your competition?

Identify what sets you apart from others in your industry. It goes beyond the minimum expectation of ‘good customer service.’ Listen to what your clients tell you about why they like working with you. Share what your business does best for your clientele without being negative about competitors.

Answering these questions will help you explain your business effectively and also enhance your ability to implement a comprehensive referral system. By communicating these aspects to your fellow networkers and referral sources, you enable them to understand how they can refer other people to you, which is the essence of successful business networking.

Re-examine Your Business

Established business professionals often reach a point where they don’t think that they need to continue improving themselves or their businesses. Even if you have done well and been successful, it is important to continue identifying strengths and weaknesses. Businesses evolve and the business climate is constantly changing, which means that the needs of an organization change over time. You may need to regularly take time to focus on the facts of your business. Even though it sounds silly (we all know what we do, right?), taking time to re-visit and identify the basics can be helpful to you in the long run.

To start, reexamine who you are. I don’t mean you personally, I’m talking about your business. Where does the business stand today? What are your motivations for keeping it going every day? (This goes back to your “why.”) These things usually change over time, and it is quite likely that they are different than they were when you first started.

Communicate Clearly

Next, you must be able to clearly communicate who you are to your network.
Who is your network? It includes people you work with who pass referrals to you; it could be friends, family, and coworkers. It is members of your business networking group, as well as those who can connect you with someone who may be able to help you grow your business. Additionally, your newly developed understanding of your business can come in handy when a stranger asks you what you do. Remember, telling people your job title does little to convey the value you give to customers and does nothing to build or strengthen a relationship.

What to Say to Your Network
I once met someone who said she was having a hard time building her network because people couldn’t seem to understand her business. When I asked her why she thought that was the case, she responded that her business is rather complicated and when she tries to explain what it’s about, she can almost see people’s eyes spinning in their heads. I told her that before she can even begin to network effectively, she needs to find a way to explain her business in a way that people will easily understand. We ALL need to heed this advice to clearly and simply communicate what it is that we do.

Give a brief summary of your business. Do not give a laundry list of every single thing that you do. Say something that is short, powerful, and informative. Share something that invites further conversation, such as: “I work with small to medium-size businesses to help them attract more clients than they could possibly handle.”

By continuously refining your own understanding of your business and effectively communicating it to your network, you can build and strengthen your networking skills while positioning your business for sustained success.

Remember, networking is about creating meaningful connections and developing mutually beneficial relationships that go beyond the surface level. So, whether you’re explaining your business to a potential referral source or to a stranger, having a clear and concise understanding of your business will set you on the path to networking success.

 

 

 

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