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The Power Of Small Business Networking Compels You

Does it really? A sunny afternoon, sitting in your chair, the phone is quiet, e-mail is slow and you “have” to fold laundry or vacuum or think of something for dinner. What’s wrong with this? NO ACTIVITY! It is so easy to create “busy to be busy” and avoid the fact that sales are slow and you really don’t know what to do. Guess what… STOP! Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

Don't Let Distractions Become Your BusinessTime To Build A Plan

Open your eyes and pull out a pen and paper and write down five people whom you haven’t spoken to in a long time, five prospects who haven’t called you back, and five leads that you should talk to. Next write out three ways your product or service can help other businesses be successful – NOT YOURS! Now, pick up the phone and dial. Leave messages for each one telling them that you have something wonderful to tell them about and to call back as soon as they get the message. If you get them live, set up an appointment to discuss how you can work together to develop results… not success, not sales, not revenues, not money, not moving the conversation forward – just plain old results. The reason you don’t label the outcome is because results can mean different things to each person and you want to “close” them on communication and activity not a quick sale.

Turn Ideas Into Action

Evaluate your success. Did you  reach five of the fifteen? How many appointments? Regardless of the results write down five ideas/issues that came from the conversations or messages. Review them and put them into an e-mail with the subject line… “Help! I need some advice from you because I trust you.” Craft each e-mail message to discuss the ideas and ask for feedback from ten to twenty contacts from your secondary network. You will experience up to 10% response indicating ways to deal with your ideas or issues. Note  I said secondary network. Your primary network knows you, has done business with you, or is active with you socially. The secondary network might be part of your trickle marketing, friends of friends, or people whom you were referred to in the last 60 days because they were a potential “good fit” for your company. They all should be on the outskirts of your “know, like, trust” group but potentially interested in your product or service.

Networking Power

Everything I have discussed so far can be considered “sales 101” in the sense of creating not stagnating in your business. Distractions are far easier than conducting business and I guess that is why we call it work. Having said that, what we are addressing is the difficulty every business owner faces daily in regards to activity, lead conversion, time management, and critical thinking. Setting up a patterned system to contact, promote, and stimulate networking will lead to unrealized rewards. The key is consistency, follow-up, and defined strategy. Don’t waste time with contacts, businesses, or people who don’t really move you forward to your goals.

Who Should I Talk To?

The only thing you can control in your business is you. Your time, energy, drive, self-management, and passion for success. You have to clearly define your goals on paper and talk about them with others prior to launching campaigns, going to networking functions, or … folding laundry. The reason small business owners let distractions take over their focus is because it is easier to complete something immediately tangible than to struggle with a long-term initiative. When was the last time you decided to review billing, evaluate year-to-date numbers, or analyze resource capability rather than picking up the phone or sending a directive e-mail? I suffer from the same issues and literally rise from my chair and walk in a circle and sit back down to re-focus.

Develop Good Habits

Take the time to analyze your reaction to stress, lack of activity, and how you deal with distractions. Develop a system to break the status quo and launch new activity-driven campaigns or initiatives and  better your business today. For example, in the first part of this article, focusing on five cold prospects, five active leads, and five potential targets gears you up for action not stagnation. The system should include simple actions that are performed in order, be measured, and slightly changed for maximum benefit. Strengthen the habits that lead to positive outcomes and ignore ones that lead to distraction. Now is the time to start. Don’t wait, don’t think, just do! Remember, the only one you have control over is… YOU!


Spend Your Money On – “Perfect” Lead Building

Let’s face as small business owners, we have to spend a lot more time on the front end rather than the back end of the lead generation/customer building process. Larger companies can afford to “test” the market through third parties, expensive inbound campaigns, and software-enhanced prospect nurturing programs. In small business budgets are tight and the window of opportunity closes fast. For me, the best advice of where to spend your money – lead development.

Lead Versus Prospect

When does a lead become a prospect? By nature leads are generally interested in your specific product or service and are open to more education, monetary stimulation (sales/discoDeveloping Leads Is A Daily Processunts), and potential relationships. On the other hand, a prospect is identified by his conversion to – ready to buy. The true sales process begins when the matrix of [desire-product mix-budget] are matched effectively and competition is addressed. The only challenge becomes timing and delivery. It is very common to see old marketers focused on leads and not prospects because it is much easier to describe leads by demographics, buying styles, finances, personal interests, etc. than trying to define prospects. True prospects are generated AFTER conversion and can’t be counted before. This is why so many sales funnels are littered with “could-be prospects” with no real value as opposed to defined opportunity. How many times do you or your sales people extend the closing date until next week or month to show activity? In my experience, the closer the business owner is to the sales process the smaller the funnel and higher the closing percentage. Small businesses can’t waste the time on pipe dreams.

Business Development Or Product Evangelism

Understanding the difference between business development and product selling is one of the most important components of lead generation strategy. Is the small business building a product to fit a need or is the need an obvious fit Generate Interest In Your Companyto existing product? In many small businesses owners opt for the “field of dreams” philosophy – build it and they will come rather than go out, find them, and bring them to the game. Simply put, if no one knows about your company, then no one knows about your company. This is why lead generation is essential to growth and should be part of every strategy regardless of focus.

Best practice:  know that future customers are always built-TODAY.

Where To Begin Constructing Leads?

Now that you understand the difference between leads and prospects, sales funnel and pipe dreams, and the basic mechanism of search out rather than wait for, you are ready to generate leads. Leads come from a comparison of a company’s core competencies to market condition and buyer desire. With desire being defined as the value a customer will pay for your product or service and the potential of referring this to others in a target market. The best place to start is with your competition particularly those who market as the lions in your niche market. Big players in a target market have to give up specialization and speed to enable standardization of the product platform and messaging of value. Enter small business!  Resplendent with low overhead, targeted skill sets, and local exposure, small business can capitalize on what the “big guys” can’t or don’t do for immediate profit. As in personal life unhappiness and disappointment will fuel desire for change. Many businesses are started because of inefficiencies found in large established firms. Take advantage of a bigger player’s struggling market share, unstable marketing message, and operational weaknesses to stimulate a fertile field of leads for your company.

Do your homework, compare offerings, and establish your target niche. Sharper vision and clear messaging will equate to higher possibility that specific buyers will have interest in you. For help with this process, drop me a line or contact through either facebook or this website.

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