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Networking Tip: Don’t Cut Your Own Throat!

Have you ever been at a networking function talking to someone and felt uncomfortable and unsure if you were saying the right thing? Were you afraid you might screw up and alienate the other person and destroy any change of doing business together? If you have, rest assured “don’t worry, be happy”. Let’s discuss the reason why being careful about what is said can destroy any success in the networking environment.

Too Much Wasted Time?

Networking Tip picThe goal in business networking is to establish and nurture long-term business relationships through a process of follow-up, trust building, and accountability developed over time. Just like any relationship, being honest and interactive plays a critical role in that development.

Upon meeting someone for the first time, everyone wants to make a good impression. People often exhibit their “best face” to ensure success. This can often cause problems that are unexpected and long-lasting. One problem is that trying to appear as something we are not will create fear of discovery and distraction making the situation uncomfortable, and frankly a waste of time. Other people sense it unconsciously and tend to push away. Not the desired result we can assume, right?

Most people worry that “just being who you are” will not be enough and others won’t accept them. Contrary to that belief I submit, if we don’t, sooner or later the “real you” will come out and then everyone will have to deal with the consequences – mostly negative or damage control related. This leads to feelings of distrust and potential separation.

A Good Example

You finally meet the person of your dreams and lay it on thick. Talking about personal triumphs, embellishing your storied past, and perhaps exaggerating a little bit or glossing over the negatives. Later the truth comes out in conversation or worse, by accident. It sets the stage for difficult times and a whole bunch of mumbled answers and apologizing. In my opinion, it is better to risk being true to who you are up front, telling people exactly how you feel. In general people are forgiving and want to forgive. Apologizing for something you said that is potentially embarrassing is a heck of a lot easier than to back pedal when lies are uncovered and you have to explain why. Say goodbye to your credibility.

Chill Out and Relax

A bit of advice for your next networking activity- relax, be genuine and honest. You will have more fun and people will be open to speaking with you. A specific agenda to get to know others will make you more productive and the event more rewarding. People like passion and honesty and develop trust rapidly leading to what we all desire – new business opportunity.

Enthusiastic passion and authenticity are great building blocks for networking. If you love what you do and show it – honestly, others will congregate around you. You will be happier and appear happier. As we all know, happy inside will lead to expression of happiness outside and others can see it – a big smile is attractive and inviting.

To sum it up, just be yourself. You will be more positive, have better results and will find yourself looking forward to the next event and following up with new acquaintances. In the fullness of time, the measurable difference will appear in many ways besides a boost to your bottom line. Perhaps you might even gain more friendships and the referrals everyone talks about. It is a proven fact that friends really do refer friends.

If you want to discuss better ways of communicating and develop a simple networking strategy, give me a call. If you don’t then watch out for sharp knives…


7 Ways to Break Free From the “Old” Sales Mindset

Are you open to changing your selling behavior? What would your new mindset look like? For that matter which is better, leading with a strong sales pitch or avoiding the pitch all together? Do you think that hidden sales pressure created by you causes rejection or push away buyers? When questions arise about your product or service are you confrontational or educational? The answer to all of these questions stems from what you learned and how you proceed through the sales process. It doesn’t matter what you are trying to sell or offer, the fact remains that “pushy” drives away business. Let’s walk through some ways to reconfigure a positive mindset leading to profits, happy customers, and referrals!

Out With The Old

Regardless of what product or service you’re selling, you should be able to relate to the questions above. Outdated sales skills fail to address the core issue of how to think about selling, and unless that core is changed once and for all, struggling will go on with the same counterproductive sales behaviors. And support the belief that success is always just one new sales technique away from a major breakthrough.

New Thinking = New Results

Maybe it’s time to take a different approach. Maybe there is a need to analyze personal thinking and identify why more sales are not happening. Take a look at the table below and think about your current selling mindset. How would your selling behaviors change if you changed your sales thinking?

Sales Mindset Comparison

Let’s take a closer look at these concepts so you can begin to open up your current sales thinking and become more effective in your selling efforts.

1. Stop the sales pitch. Start a conversation. When you call someone, never start out with a mini-presentation about yourself, your company, and what you have to offer. Instead, start with a conversational phrase that focuses on a specific problem that your product or service solves. For example, you might say, “I’m just calling to see if you are open to some different ideas related to preventing downtime across your computer network?” Notice that you are not pitching your solution with this opening phrase. Instead, you’re addressing a problem that, based on your experience in your field, you believe they might be having. (If you don’t know what problems your product or service solves, do a little research by asking your current customers why they purchased your solution.)

2. Your goal is always to discover whether you and your prospect are a good fit. If you let go of trying to close the sale or get the appointment, you’ll discover that you don’t have to take responsibility for moving the sales process forward. By simply focusing your conversation on problems that you can help prospects solve, and by not jumping the gun by trying to move the sales process forward, you’ll discover that prospects will give you the direction you need.

3. When you lose a sale, it’s usually at the beginning of the sales process. If you think you’re losing sales due to mistakes you make at the end of the process, review how you began the relationship. Did you start with a pitch? Did you use traditional sales language (“We have a solution that you really need” or “Others in your industry have bought our solution, you should consider it as well”)? Traditional sales language leads prospects to label you with the negative stereotype of “salesperson.” This makes it almost impossible for them to relate to you with trust or to have an honest, open conversation about problems they’re trying to solve and how you might be able to help them.

4. Hidden sales pressure causes rejection. Eliminate sales pressure, and you’ll never experience rejection. Prospects don’t trigger rejection. You do — when something you say, and it could be very subtle, triggers a defensive reaction from your prospect. Yes, something you say. You can eliminate rejection forever simply by giving up the hidden agenda of hoping to make a sale. Instead, be sure that everything you say and do stems from the basic mindset that you’re there to help prospects identify and solve their issues.

5. Never chase prospects. Instead, get to the truth of whether there’s a fit or not. Chasing prospects has always been considered normal and necessary, but it’s rooted in the macho selling image that “If you don’t keep chasing, you’re giving up, which means you’re a failure.” This is dead wrong. Instead, ask your prospects if they’d be open to connecting again at a certain time and date so you can both avoid the phone tag game.

6. When prospects offer objections, validate them and reopen the conversation. Most traditional sales programs spend a lot of time focusing on “overcoming” objections, but these tactics only create more sales pressure. They also keep you from exploring or learning the truth behind what your prospects are saying. You know that “We don’t have the budget,” “Send me information,” or “Call me back in a few months,” are polite evasions designed to get you off the phone. Stop trying to counter objections. Instead, shift to uncovering the truth by replying, “That’s not a problem.” No matter what the objection, use gentle, dignified language that invites prospects to tell you the truth about their situation without feeling you’ll use it to press for a sale.

7. Never defend yourself or what you have to offer. This only creates more sales pressure. When prospects say, “Why should I choose you over your competition?,” your instinctive reaction is to defend your product or service because you believe that you are the best choice, and you want to convince them of that. But what goes through their minds at that point? Something like, “this ‘salesperson’ is trying to sell me, and I hate feeling as if I’m being sold.” Stop defending yourself. In fact, come right out and tell them that you aren’t going to try to convince them of anything because that only creates sales pressure. Instead, ask them again about key problems they’re trying to solve. Then explore how your product or service might solve those problems. Give up trying to persuade. Let prospects feel they can choose you without feeling sold.

The sooner you can let go of the traditional sales beliefs that we’ve all been exposed to, the more quickly you’ll feel good about selling again, and start seeing better results.

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