You snooze, you lose.
Something got lost between the Rollodex, the CRM (Contact Relationship Management) software and the growth of the internet generations.
People seem to have become a lot more transactional. They have given up the power in the connectivity of relational networking.
Relational vs Transactional
I’ve been speaking and writing about networking as a business development tool since 1990. Early on, someone asked me what the best “style” of networking might be. Here’s how I replied in an Article called Pearl Diving:
“Network. Just don’t try to turn that contact into a contract on the spot. It won’t work. We’ve all met people that try that. They glide up to you like a shark, ask a question, talk through your response with a rapid fire commercial, tell you to call them and then they’re gone. In their view, they are networking. Those predatory types just don’t understand the difference between transactional and relational networking.
Transactional networkers want to score now. They are driven to pin down a prospect, get the job or close the deal. They have no time for anything else. They see networking as just one more form of manipulation. Leads groups that penalize members for failure to produce prospects fall into this category, as do the tactics employed by some multilevel marketing organizations.
There is a place for transactions, but it is never on a first meeting. And in most cases it will come much later in the sequence. Tit for Tat Transitional Networking does not scale. The best networkers understand that Networking is the establishment of a relationship.
Relational networkers aren’t interested in what you might be worth to them. They are always more curious about you as a person. They consistently ask how they can be of help to you rather than the other way around. They maintain the contact out of regard for you, not a need to cash in on the contact.”
The power of the list
I advise elite consultants on the marketing they need to build already successful businesses. All have a list of clients, prospects, referral sources, trusted advisors (for themselves and others) and other resources pending Trust evaluations.
The numbers on the lists vary and may be scattered across the world depending on the geographic scope of the consultant’s business. For instance, if you need to initiate a change in a government or multinational I can tell you who to call. That trusted resource is headquartered in Singapore. Need software to revolutionize the speed of managing your business? I can connect you with the president here in North America or the founder in Australia.
In most cases the extremely successful do not have huge lists. If you sell product on line you need to continually expand your list or you need to offer new products of value on a regular basis. But if your business is primarily one to one B2B your list may be relatively small. My current clients have combined lists of no more than 500. They continually add prospects and referral sources but the best apply one measure you should consider.
Meet them before classifying them.
You can add folks to your list in these ways:
- Speaking—all those folks that want to talk after you step down from the platform and be added to your blog and/or newsletter list if they agree to that. Meet with them before you classify them as a prospect or referral source.
- Networking—at industry events, again with their permission. Before you go past your blog and newsletter try to meet with them on a more personal basis.
- Social Networking Connections—to include Linked In, FaceBook, BeBee and any other that provides a profile and allows you to connect with them. Before you start adding folks willy-nilly be sure you have a solid description of the demographics and psychographics of your target addition in mind. Again, get permission before you add them to your blog and/or newsletter list. I recommend that you limit your on-line list development primarily to prospects and that you count on it taking longer than you expected.
- Introductions—either in person or on-line from referral sources or a relational networker. Always get their permission to put them on your blog and newsletter lists. If you think they are worth pursuing as a prospect, add them to that list. Could they be a referral source or a resource? You decide.
- Face to Face—prospects introduced by referral sources should be added to the blog and newsletter list almost automatically. If you are meeting with them as a result of speaking or networking you will need to decide whether to put them in your prospect or referral source or resource list.
Keeping track of them
There is no question that the digital world has more efficiency than the old rollodex. The question is how much of that capability do you need?
Excel or other Spreadsheet programs are quite sufficient for some small or highly specialized organizations. That is good for maintaining the list. You’ll need to have calendar program as well to assure you can schedule follow up.
Manual CRM system sounds like an oxymoron but if you are really dealing with a small target number it can make sense. I designed a manual system for a client specializing in Gallium Arsenide chips that had a total of only 26 prospects. It worked. He sold his process and retired.
Digital CRM software can be added to your computer as a standalone or cloud based. Your practice or business size and the number of people that will require access to the data can significantly impact your choices. That, plus the capabilities of the software to deliver blogs or newsletters and other marketing materials, should be considered.
E-mail Programs like Constant Contact and Mail Chimp make it easy to build and e-mail your newsletter as well as keep track of your lists. One of my clients decided to forego a blog opting to send his guidance filled newsletter on weekends. Midweek he sends a mini-update including a new video. His opens average 25.3% on a list that is exclusively c-suite.
Automated Marketing? Yes, It can be done but do you need it? Do you need to trigger actions based on time elapsed or actions taken? Can you build out a funnel that will guide the prospect to a sale based on their situation? (That is a whole blog by itself)
Your list is the second most important part of your business.
The most important is you. If you are a solopreneur the knowledge you bring to the equation is why the business succeeds. If you are an entrepreneur working with a team, your ideas and processes are the intellectual property that makes the business possible. Whether you provide a product or service without your list you can’t make sales over time.
And so it goes.
Jerry Fletcher is a sought-after International Speaker, a beBee ambassador, founder and Grand Poobah of www.BrandBrainTrust.com
His consulting practice, founded in 1990, is known for on and off-line Trust-based Consultant Marketing and Brand development advice that builds businesses, careers and lives of joy.