How Can I Help You? Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
converting prospects into customers

Converting Prospects Into Customers

Your referral source has done her job and emailed you a referral. If she is a BNI member, she passed you the referral via BNI Connect. Now it’s time to contact the prospect. But be careful: The purpose of your first contact call is not to make a sale or even ask the prospect if he has questions about your business. If, and only if, the prospect asks, should you present your products or services during this first contact call. Remember, when converting prospects into customers, you must first build a relationship. It may take a while, but if you follow these recommendations, you’ll speed up the process of closing the deal.

Do your homework.

First, contact the referral source who passed you the referral. Ask the referral source for any relevant information. As we are currently practicing physical distancing globally and working from home, the first contact meeting cannot be a face-to-face meeting at this time. Instead, the preferred format for this first meeting is to do a video conference call. However, ask the referral source to contact the prospect on your behalf to determine if the prospect wants to be contacted by you via telephone or video conference call for the first call.

If the prospect prefers this first contact call to be a telephone call, do not delay. Make your first contact telephone call with the prospect within 72 hours.

If the prospect prefers this first contact call to be an online video conference call, send an email to the prospect requesting possible dates, times, and their preferred video call platform (Facetime, Zoom, MS Teams, Gotowebinar, etc..). Please confirm the time zone if the prospect if not living in your area.

If the referral source can be present, invite the referral source to attend this video conference call with you and the prospect. This way, the referral source can introduce you in person to the prospect at the start of the video call with a more thorough briefing about you, your business and your products or services.

First Contact Telephone Call / Online Video Conference Call

Before the first contact call, look up the website and the various social media pages for the prospect’s business for additional information. Review their website to understand their business better. Use these sources of information to get to know the prospect better and to prepare questions to ask about them on the first contact call.

Reminder: The purpose of your first contact call is not to make a sale or even ask the prospect if he has questions about your business. If, and only if, the prospect asks, should you present your products or services during this first contact call.

The purpose of the first contact call is to:

  • Begin to build the relationship;
  • Get to know the prospect better;
  • Help the prospect get to know you better;
  • Find out how you can help them;
  • Position yourself to make your next contact; and
  • Judge if the prospect fits your source’s description of her.

You’ve Got Mail

Within 24 hours after the first contact call, it is recommended to email the prospect with a summary of the call, fun facts about the prospect, any information requested by the prospect, a brief note of gratitude, the next steps, and your contact information.

When you start composing your email, start by naming your referral source–a name the prospect will recognize.

Writing this email gives you a better, more controlled opportunity to convey what you’ve learned about the prospect. It helps develop your relationship to let your prospect know you find him interesting enough to have taken the time to learn a few facts about him. Express an interest in meeting him again, and advise him you’ll be calling to schedule a mutually convenient appointment for the next online video conference call.

Do not attach and send your business literature with this email unless requested by the prospect. This will avoid giving the impression that you’re interested in him primarily as a prospective customer.

Make the Call

Give the prospect a week to process this email before you follow up with a telephone call. When you telephone the prospect, ask if he has any questions from the first contact call. Plus, offer to send more information via postal mail. If the prospect indicates that he would want this, send it right away. Finally, schedule a second video conference call while on this telephone call. Hopefully soon, we will once again be able to meet people face-to-face again.

Following Up When Converting Prospects Into Customers

When building relationships, it’s always important not to let much time lapse without following up on the first contact. Within two to three days of the follow-up telephone call, you should send your prospect a note via postal mail expressing your pleasure in communicating with him. It’s still too early, though, to automatically send business literature unless requested above or to make any move toward sales promotion.

So follow up early, but don’t push beyond the prospect’s comfort level. Once the prospect has expressed an interest in your products or services, you can provide information about them, but don’t force it on him. Continue presenting your products or services, but avoid the hard sell. Focus on fulfilling his needs and interests. Your goal should be to keep your prospect aware of your business without annoying him.

If you have prepared your referral sources well, your efforts may pay off on your very first call. Most often, the prospect from a referral will need more time. Many people were financially affected by the changes from the viral outbreak. Therefore, this may not be the ideal time for them to hire you for your services. They may express an interest in talking later about your products or services and hiring you when the situation improves. Be patient when converting prospects into customers.

Networking Online

Networking Online

Because of the current health situation, a lot of us are working from home. Even if you cannot go to your usual places to network face-to-face with others at mixers, meetings, or social events, you can still take action and build up your networking online.

Earlier this week, I shared some tips for working from home. Please watch this video to learn a few things you can do right now to maintain a powerful personal network online:

Networking Online

Take a few minutes daily to reach out to a few people each day in your network and schedule an appointment to talk to them later in the week. There are many ways to connect with others, even if not face to face. The easiest way is to pick up the phone and actually have a conversation with them. If both you and that person are comfortable with setting up a video call, I recommend connecting with them at a scheduled time on Zoom, Teams, or some other platform. Not only chat about each other’s businesses but ask how they are doing personally. Find out if there are ways you can help them. Finally, it is ok to also ask them for help. We all could use a friend these days.

Now is the time to build up your online networking with your fellow BNI® members using our newest platform: BNI Online™. This will allow you to stay in touch and attend your BNI Networking meetings virtually during these days of social isolation.

If you’re not in BNI®, we are inviting local business professionals to join us online. If you know someone looking to grow their business online during these challenging times, please invite them as our guests to our online meeting. This is a chance for them to experience BNI and networking from the comfort of their home or office.

Find a local online meeting in your area:
https://www.bni.com/find-a-chapter

Please watch this video to learn some things you can do right now to maintain a powerful personal network. Now, more than ever, you need your network. Work together with them by networking online.

networking

So why go to a networking meeting?

You go because networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. Sometimes you go to increase your visibility and to connect with people you have never met. Sometimes you go to establish further credibility with people you know. And sometimes you may go to meet a long-time referral partner and do some business. In any case, the true master networkers know that networking events are about moving through the relationship process and not just about closing deals. Visibility leads to credibility which, with time and effort, leads to profitability.

Your goal at a networking event is to make yourself memorable without talking about yourself. It sounds paradoxical, doesn’t it? But, if you know how to do it, you will stand out in people’s minds when they look back on the event. The secret is simply to ask people about themselves and their businesses. In order to make your networking efforts work, you need to embrace a “relationship networking” mentality.

Remember these ten networking tips to make yourself stand out when attending networking events:

  1. Don’t go there to sell, go there to connect.
  2. Have meaningful conversations with the people you meet.
  3. Make yourself memorable.
  4. Talk less and listen more.
  5. Follow up with people you found interesting or who you can help in some way.
  6. Don’t follow up to sell them something.
  7. Don’t show off, show interest.
  8. Meet these people in a one-to-one setting and learn more about them
  9. Ask them: “how can I help you?”
  10. Go for the long-term relationship, not the short sale.

What is the goal of your networking? If it is to build your business, then it’s all about building a relationship with people. Keep your eye on the ball. Don’t try to dazzle them with your brilliance. You can do that later.

Stand out from the crowd and impress them with your genuine interest in them, not your interest in selling to them.

MINO

MINO: Members In Name Only

Being a member of the group is not enough. What I called a MINO (Member In Name Only)  If you are not contributing then why are you there.

Whatever the issues are, just ask, “How can we help?” If we respond negatively, they become defensive. The power is to focus on a constructive approach. If you ask them, “How can we help you?”, their answer will always be either a “Can’t do” or “Won’t do” answer. The person will either explain why they are having difficulty with the situation because they “don’t know how to” address it effectively, or they will give an answer that illustrates that they “don’t really want to” do this for some reason or another. If they are going to say they are really challenged: I can’t do.

How to handle a “Can’t do”:

The printer in a chapter was dead last on P.A.L.M.S. report. We did not tell him that he was dead last. Instead, we asked him, “How can we help you?” The print shop is new, I don’t understand networking. I sleep at my print shop. I do not know how to do this networking stuff. This is a classic “Cant’ Do” response. It is our job to teach them. We were all “can’t do” when we first started. We all make tons of mistakes. When someone alleges they can’t do, they are open to being coached. It is our job to teach them.  If we were just negative and told them they were dead last, he would have quit. Pour into them and help them. They become champions in BNI.

We came up with this together and brainstorm the idea. Not my idea, but I helped. Where the clients come into the lobby area of his shop, he put up a sign where everyone could see it with slots for the BNI members’ business cards. Get 20 copies of everyone’s business cards to fill signs with only the cards from BNI members. Tell them that Bob’s printing referred you. If someone not in BNI wants to give you their cards for the sign, invite them to the next BNI meeting. True story! Nobody just took a card and left. They asked Bob his opinion on each of these. He gave a testimonial with everyone he had cards for. Bob went from last to number one in giving the most referrals. He went from being embarrassed to the top referral giver within 6 months. Bob was the winner of the year. He now loves BNI. We changed his business by coaching and mentoring Bob.

How to handle a “Won’t do”:

It’s too difficult. They give excuses, they are busy, I’m different. With a clear-cut “won’t do”, you open the door for them. They will leave on their own. “I understand your frustration, it is ok to leave the group, feel free to come back if things change”. If you kick them out, they will become defiant and negative towards BNI. They blame and claim it is everyone’s fault. It’s ok to leave on top. If they don’t save face, they will fight you all the way. They don’t hate you if you give them the option to leave in a positive manner. Throw them a “retirement party”. You can cut down the percentage that will require a tough conversation by 90%. Then only 10% of the time you need to have the tough talk about opening their classification and not renewing their membership.

The best part about BNI is friendship; the worst part is the friendship. Ice hockey without rules would be boxing on ice. Without rules, your networking group would be chaos.  You want to be invested in their success. Being a member of the group is not enough.   If you are not contributing then why are you there? Do not become a MINO.

“Can't do” or “Won’t do”

Helping others depends on either a “Can’t do” or “Won’t do” answer

Whatever the issues are that are holding someone back, focus on a constructive approach. If you ask them, “How can we help you?”, their answer will always be either a “can’t do” or “won’t do” answer. The person will either explain why they are having difficulty with the situation because they don’t know how to address it effectively, or they will give an answer that illustrates that they don’t really want to do this for some reason or another.

How to handle a “Can’t do” answer

Once there was a printer that was dead last on P.A.L.M.S. report in a local BNI group. We did not tell him that he was dead last. Instead, we asked him, “How can we help you?” His response was that his print shop was new and he admitted that he did not understand networking. This is a classic “Cant’ Do” response. It is our job to teach them because we were all a “can’t do” when we first started networking. We all make tons of mistakes. When someone says they can’t do something, they are open to being coached. It is our job to teach them.  If we were just negative and told the printer he was dead last, he would have quit. Instead, if we pour into them and help them, they become champions in BNI.

Where the clients come into the lobby area of the print shop, we recommended that he put up a sign where everyone could see it with slots for the BNI members’ business cards. He was instructed to get 20 copies of everyone business cards to fill sign with only the cards from BNI members. When someone took a card, they were told to say that Bob’s printing referred you. If someone not in BNI wanted to give him their cards for the sign, the printer was instructed to invite them to the next BNI meeting instead. True story! Nobody just took a card and left. They asked Bob his opinion on each of these. He gave a testimonial with everyone he had cards for. He went from last to number one in giving the most referrals. He went from being embarrassed to the top referral giver within 6 months. He was the winner of the year. He now loves BNI. We changed his business by coaching him.

How to handle a “Won’t do” answer

In this example, they give excuses: it’s too difficult… they are busy…I’m different. With a clear-cut “won’t do” answer, if you open the door for them they will leave on their own. I recommend saying, “I understand your frustration, it is ok to leave the group, feel free to come back if things change”. However, if you kick them out, they will become defiant and negative towards BNI. They blame the chapter and claim it is everyone fault. Therefore, if they don’t save face, they will fight you all the way. On the other hand, they don’t hate you if you give them the option to leave in a positive manner.

Here’s a suggestion. On rare, rare occasions – when someone is a “won’t do” but they don’t want to leave.  Tell them you appreciate their involvement and that you’ll throw them a “retirement party”. OK, not a real party – but recognize their past participation in the group and thank them for their involvement. This should be done rarely but it allows them to save face and leave. With this advice, you can cut down the percentage that will require a tough conversation by 90%. Then, only 10% of the time you need to have the tough talk about opening their classification and not renewing their membership. You want to be invested in their success, yet cut them loose when needed.

Being a member of the group is not enough.  If you are not contributing then why are you there? Being complacent is what I call a “MINO” (Member In Name Only). How can we help you to get more engaged? How can we help you to… bring more members? …bring more visitors? …bring more referrals? Whatever the issues are, just ask, “How can we help?” Their answer will tell you if you can help them.

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