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We’ve all encountered the guy who attends events just to see what he can get for himself, but there are ways to effectively use networking events in your sales outreach efforts.
You know the type: his conversations are one-sided because he’s only focused on his next big opportunity, and he has no time to learn about your business. His pitch kicks in when he finds out you’re a business owner.
But he could have fixed his approach. And you can make sure you’re not like him in your outreach.
No matter what type of sales you’re in, you need to get clients in the hopper. The way you get new leads varies based upon your industry. Some demand door-to-door while others require phone calls. Today, we at The Sales Evangelist use social media and other efforts as well as networking events.
Typically, at networking events, I encounter potential clients or people who can connect me with other people who are potential clients. Outreach done well can be very rewarding. But as we mentioned in the teaser, you can’t become the obnoxious guy that others avoid.
He may not even realize he’s coming across that way. He has likely had just enough random success to believe that he’s effective. But he could perform a lot better and gain more leads and opportunities if he changed his approach.
Before you attend a networking event, do your best to find out who will be there. Will the people there tie in with your demographic? Will they represent your ideal customer?
It may be impossible to find out who will be there, but it’s worth the effort to try. If you know the organizers, ask them about the top companies that will be represented there. If they give you names, research them before the actual event. Use tools like LinkedIn to gather data about those companies.
Plan who you want to connect with at the event. Develop a short list. The spray-and-pray mentality that involves giving out 10,000 business cards doesn’t look good. Instead, be intentional about the cards you give out.
Broaden your reach
Identify people you’d like to do business with as well as those who can become potential partners for you. Then, consider those who may not purchase directly from you but who can introduce you to other complementary partners.
You could even consider connecting with those you consider competition. I’ve had a good working relationship with companies I compete with, and we were able to help each other out. Whether we’re pursuing the same customers or different ones, it doesn’t make sense to burn bridges unnecessarily.
It’s also good to identify people that you could potentially help.
Be genuinely interested
People don’t necessarily care about you but everyone cares about their own problems. We’re all trying to solve problems, so the obnoxious seller might do well to understand our challenges. Perhaps he should have been curious about our business and asked additional questions.
Then ask follow-up questions. We did a great episode with Bob Burg who gave us great insights on this issue.
It’s worth mentioning, too, that we’re having a local sales meetup where Bob will be the guest speaker. We’ll be talking about his book, The Go-Giver.
Bob recommends having a list of questions you can ask.
- Why did you get involved in this business?
- What’s the biggest challenge you are seeing?
This leads to deeper discussions that will help you identify issues.
Be prepared for their questions. Don’t begin by telling them what you have to offer, but be prepared for them to ask. Give a simple clean message that’s no more than 30 seconds. Let him know what you do.
Consider something like this:
“We help small businesses who are interested in growth, build out a sales process that’s actually going to help them increase revenue. We do this through consulting as well as through sales training.”
This will lead to further discussion and it will open opportunities for you to talk more. It may even provide more time for you to pitch in front of the group.
Jason Lynette, who appeared in episode 1081, gave a masterful message about situations where you have more time to share your message.
Draw in the room
Jason told the story of a murder. A woman came into his office with a horrible fear of bugs. She was a high-powered attorney who backed out of the case of a lifetime because she saw a cockroach in the courtroom. Within 10 days after their first meeting, she killed a housefly with her bare hands.
Draw in the room. While everyone else shares what they have to offer, you demonstrate that you’re a human. Entertain them. Share a story. Prove that you’re someone they could work with.
Then you can ask whether or not they know others who might benefit from what you offer. Consider, too, whether you might be able to help them by identifying people who can benefit from their product or services.
After the event, connect with all of those same people on LinkedIn. Remind them that you connected and nurture that relationship. Then you can utilize those connections to build your business.
I shared this with you because I want to help. I don’t want you to be that guy at a networking event. I want you to find more ideal customers. I want you to build stronger value. I want you to close more deals, but most importantly, I want to challenge you each and every single day to go out and do big things.
“Effectively Use Networking Events In Your Sales Outreach Efforts” episode resources
If you haven’t connected with me on LinkedIn already, do that at Donald C. Kelly and watch the things I’m sharing there.
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