Sep
11

3 Keys to Getting the Edge in a Tight Market

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In this tight market, how can we get an edge over our competitors?

Let’s look beyond your immediate BNI chapter or other networking group. When we are used to receiving steady referrals from our regular networking colleagues, we can often become complacent with our actual client base.

And this complacency often results in lost potential business.

How to Open Up A Tight Market 

In any market, the first step is getting the client, the second step being paid for the completed work, and the third step getting repeat business. First time work is relatively easy during good times, but – combined with receiving repeat business – becomes crucial in a tight market to maintain your business growth.

So let’s look at a strategy to gain new business and keep it!

3 Keys To Cracking A Tight Market

Your approach does not have to be complicated, fancy or time-consuming – consistently combing solid customer service and marketing basics with some new technological aids will get you there.

PICK UP THE PHONE!

You would be surprised how many of my clients, when I ask the question “what work do you have in the pipeline?”, respond that they have emailed out five, 10 or more proposals in the last few weeks/months – and are “just waiting to hear back from their prospects”. Hear back from them! Whatever happened to picking up the phone and talking to your prospects?

Too many business owners today are using email as their only sales tool, rather than maintaining that personal touch and building their networks. It is not enough to just send a quote or a proposal – you MUST follow up.

Give your prospect an opportunity to ask questions, clarify their queries, say yes or no, or give you a firm idea of when a decision will be made. You must be as pro-active as your competitors.

When you pick up the phone, ideally it’s so you get the work confirmed. Though even if you don’t confirm work, you want to leave the potential prospect with a positive opinion of your professionalism. The successful supplier this time might not meet their expectations and your name will be top of mind for next time. And if you really want to stand out, send them a hand-written note. Saying something like  “Hi Kate, sorry to hear we were not successful as the supplier for your XYZ project. Should you need anything that your selected supplier cannot help with, please do not hesitate to call me. Either way, I trust your event will be a great success.” Of course, include a business card with your note.  Trust me, you will be remembered.

STAY CONNECTED

I recently had a conversation with someone who had networked his services for one organisation through to multiple companies, purely by keeping in touch with a handful of key players and spheres of influence. At one stage, all these key players worked together, then there was a takeover/merger and they had gone their separate ways over time. He had stayed connected with each key player, and eventually he was approached to take his services to four different companies – all because he made the effort to keep in touch.

He also made the comment that during a twelve-month period, there were times when he left phone messages, or sent emails and did not get a response. “That’s life,” he said, “some of the group adapted to the merger better than others. A couple of them took time to find a new role of equivalent status. There were a few times I heard about work in the marketplace and I would text them saying, did you know they were looking for a new supplier at XYZ company?”

It doesn’t take much to be remembered positively. In this volatile market, there is a lot of movement in, and some great staff have been and will be made redundant. Sometimes your peers feel embarrassed to ask for help. Why not – tactfully – keep your ear to the ground and offer help to others who you know may have recently lost their job.  Even if it’s a tele-coffee – a pre-arranged phone appointment taking 5-10 minutes – where you ask or offer help, shoot the breeze or bounce ideas around. It takes very little to be remembered positively these days.

CONVERT YOUR LINKEDIN CONNECTIONS 

In the olden days, we used to call it working your database, making regular contact with people in our networks. Today, LinkedIn makes this so much easier (if you have not as yet joined the LinkedIn fan club, please visit my website www.networkingtowin.com.au for a complimentary e-copy of “Why I Love LinkedIn, And How I Went From Zero To 2500+ In 12 Months”). When people connect with you, they begin to follow you and, as long as you a regular LinkedIn user, you will show up on their LinkedIn radar.

However, connecting with someone via LinkedIn and sending a few messages is sometime not enough to firm up business quickly.  I use a couple of different strategies with my LinkedIn prospects:

  1. I pick up the phone – regardless of where they live and the potential cost of the call. I talk to them. Again, I am not trying to “sell me” – purely giving them an opportunity to ask me any questions they may have, attempt to get to know them better, and build trust ear to ear.
  2. Face to face, of course, is the number one way to get to “yes”. Sometimes you may even find that there is an opportunity to connect with a potential LinkedIn prospect at a networking event. It may not be a network you have been to before. However, as long as you are clear about 1. the why you are going, 2. what you want to achieve, and 3. how you are going to do it, you are bound to get results. Does that mean you walk away with business that day? Maybe, maybe not. What you will have done though is move the person from stranger to acquaintance to colleague – before you ultimately move to customer (who buys once), client (who has used your services two or more  times) and advocates (those who do your selling for you).
  3. On their LinkedIn profile and website, you should be able to tell if Skype is one of your connection’s preferred methods of staying in touch. Why not arrange a Skype meeting? Again, you are putting a face to the name and the messages, and progress the relationship.

Networking with a System is Still King

Today, I believe, we have to be realistic, flexible and practical when it comes to growing our business and careers. Networking is still one of the best ways to open doors nationally and internationally for you.

You must ensure, though, that once you make the connection – be it face to face or electronically – you have systems in place that enable you to maximise the connections, build on those contacts, and ultimately convert the connections to real business.

Avoid complacency with your BNI or other networking chapter – don’t take referrals for granted. One day they may stop otherwise. One thing I know for sure: the more referrals you give, the more referrals you will ultimately receive.

Happy networking – until next time.

Article written by the “Australian Queen of Networking” Robyn Henderson

Global networking specialist, Robyn Henderson has authored and contributed to more than 30 books on networking, self promotion and self esteem building. She has spoken in 12 countries, presents over 150 times per year and has never advertised. All her work comes from networking, referrals, LinkedIn and her website www.networkingtowin.com.au

Categories : Networking

Comments

  1. Face to face contact and calling is such an important way of building trust, especially in my line of business. Thanks for the reminder.

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