How to get to know your target customer- The Old Fashioned Way

Our guest author is Don Battis, a savvy entrepreneur, businessman and financier that has a great story to tell about experienced salespeople using new technologies. He is currently the CEO and founder of Pawntique, an online pawn shop and serves as a director on the board of Great Island Technologies a Value Added Reseller for HubSpot, Box.net, and Shopify. He is also an inaugural member of Inbound Networkers.

I’m an “Old School” sales guy using new technology. 

This is PART 1 of a 2-part post about getting to know your customer.  This post
describes the process “back-in-the-day” and the 2nd post will talk about how it’s
done now. 
Once upon a time, when salespeople made face-to-face sales calls, you had
to be clever to develop the lead intelligence you needed to make the sale.   I’m
not talking about the stated specifications that were written on the Request For
Quote.  I’m talking about the needs of the person controlling the purchasing
decision.   Until you can understand what motivates and guides them, you can’t
successfully sell them.
How did you gather that intelligence?  Imagine that you show up at your
prospect’s office a few minutes early for your appointment.  You “chatted up”
the lobby receptionist, who often was also the switchboard operator.  If you had
promotional items, like pads of paper or key chains, you shared them generously.
A few minutes of small talk could yield valuable information about your prospect’s
schedule and work habits- is he an early bird? Does he stay late?  Does he
answer his own phone after hours? Is he casual and outgoing or formal and
proper?
Establishing a friendly relationship with the receptionist could mean the
difference of whether or not your future calls got put through.
Often there was a sign-in book where all visitors registered.  A quick glance
could reveal the names of your competitors and when they had called on your
prospect.
Once inside the prospect’s office, you had to think like a detective at a crime
scene.  What do the things in the office reveal about your guy?  A golf trophy, a
picture of the family at Disney World, a crayon drawing of the World’s Greatest
Grandpa, a framed award from the company, a photo of your guy with his CEO,
a cluttered desk, —all of these give you clues as to his personality and how to
relate to him as-a-person.  Not only were these potential conversation starters,
they gave you the chance to empathize with him and establish mutual interests
and trust.
My favorite time for calling on a customer was 11:00 a.m.- just before lunch so
that it was logical after finishing our business to say, “What do you say we run
out for a quick sandwich someplace?” This was a good way to get the buyer
out of his business environment where he was playing his official role and into
a setting where he was more relaxed and willing to share personal information
and “off the record” business info.  Often this revealed which features were
important and how the buying decision was really going to be made- not the
official process.  Maybe it was being made by someone in Engineering that you
needed to convince in order to close the sale.
This intelligence gathering is necessary to find out the true needs of the
customer.  If you know what the company needs, and what the individual
decision makers need, you can present your offering in those terms.  You can
show how you and your company can satisfy those needs.  One of the benefits
of this face-to-face process was that it ALSO provided the opportunity for the
customer to learn about you and come to trust you.  That personal trust is critical
to any sales situation. 

People don’t do business with companies. People do business with people.

Hey! Any of you old timers want to share what you used to do?  Please comment and let me know your thoughts.

Inbound Networking

Dale Berkebile created this graphic to help business owners begin to understand the steps that a customer goes through before they become a customer.

How many new customers do you need this year? 10? 100? 1000? Do the math. Are their 5,120, 51,200 or 512,000 people searching for your product in your market? How will they find you? What will they be looking for? Bright colors? Flashy graphics? Data? E-books? Free trials?
It’s understandable that so many business owners struggle with inbound marketing. Many variables plus lots of competitors making noise all trying to get the same group of people to enter their funnel. As a matter of fact, if you’ve tried inbound marketing you’ve probably discovered that your prospects enter multiple funnels (yours and your competitors) at the same time and play you against each other.
This is much different than the ‘by referral only’ business that I ran for most of my career. The great thing about referrals is that it saves 97% of your marketing effort. Prospects enter the funnel above as real sales calls and you don’t have to deal with 97% (496/512) of the non-buyers that your competition is dealing with.
The problem is that the internet is here to stay and personal and professional networks are more than handshakes. They exist on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other online communities. Small business owners that used to attend weekly networking meetings must now join an Inbound Networking Group, but if you don’t have a big on line presence and you don’t have a huge network, you will probably need help. That’s what the Inbound Networkers Group on LinkedIn is all about. Helping you build your on line presence and your network to grow your business.
Click Inbound Networking Group for information or to join. Contact me if you have questions.

Fun Friday Posts

If you’re on Twitter, you may know that they have this thing called #FF (Follow Friday) and I’m always flattered when somebody mentions @RainMakerMaker on their #FF, but as you know, I don’t work much on Friday, so I often miss them. Here’s my idea….

How about if we screw with the Twitter world, but do it with a Fun Friday post? The post will be silly, or off color, and definitely not serious, but (and this is important) will have a sales lesson in it.
I’ll start. This one comes from a good friend of mine.
  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –  –
This is my neighbor:
She’s single…She lives right across the street.  I can see her house from my living room.
I watched as she got home from work this evening.
I was surprised when she walked across the street and up my driveway.
She knocked on my door … I rushed to open it.
She looks at me, and says, “I just got home, and I am so horny! I have this strong urge to have a good time, get drunk, and make love all night long!
Are you busy tonight?”
I immediately replied, “Nope, I’m free… I have no plans at all!”
Then she said, “Good! In that case, could you watch my dog?”
So, how many salespeople think they have a sale but wind up watching a competitor have all the fun?

So, your mission, should you accept it is to Tweet this post with the #FF hashtag. If you want some notoriety, comment before you do. Then they’ll probably read your comment as well as the post.

Want to guest post a #FF? Send it to me.

Is Inbound Networking WOM on Steroids?

Word of Mouth Trumps Every Method of Customer Acquisition or Retention

Yet so many entrepreneurs put networking and word of mouth on the back burner. Many argue it takes too long, and they need something to happen now. Maybe it is our entrepreneurial ADHD kicking in that we run after the next bright shiny object thinking that this new thing is the magic bullet that will propel us to success. But really, if we start with this end in mind, we would be too busy with growth to run after the next bright shiny thing.

‘Inbound networking’ is no different. Word of mouth has existed since the beginning of recorded history. Inbound networking is just word of mouth with a shot of online steroids. 

Think about how much time it takes to go to a face to face networking event. Let’s say you are 30 minutes away. The event itself is 2 hours. That’s 3 hours. At the event you meet 12 new people. Only 2 of them are actual prospects or partners for you. Now imagine that the other 10 people who are not prospects or partners for you are prospects for your partner in TX, CA, or even overseas. Now imagine that you make a virtual introduction. Both parties know and trust you, so they are more likely to be open to the person you are introducing.

Now imagine 1/4 of all your connections are doing the same thing and every 12 new people they meet they refer or introduce 2 of them to you.

Add in the steroids of blogs, social media, etc. That 12 is 1200. It is not rocket science to understand that is how a business (whether a start-up or expanding business) doubles sales for sustainable and consistent growth.

For more about me, check out my musings on the Smarketing blog, watch my ADHD in real time on Twitter, or visit me on LinkedIn. Or if  you prefer to speak, select a time on my calendar, I will do the rest.

P.S: I’d also suggest reading this blog by Rick. 

Trusted Professionals

Last week I published “Inbound Networking – RainMakerMaker Style“.
I received this inquiry through LinkedIn. “I would like to do what you´ve offered concerning Peter Caputas collaborative group idea: With your help I want to lead a group that generates SALES using Inbound, Social and Referral Networking.
I replied with five questions including, ‘Have you chosen your “1-2 professionals that you trust”?
I was a little surprised at the reply. “What do you mean with: 1-2 professionals that you trust?
Honestly, I thought that everyone would get that. Let me explain.
Think about all the people that you’ve ever met.
Some you didn’t like. So, take them off the list.
Some you liked, but they didn’t like you. So, take them off the list.
Some don’t work. Aren’t good at something. Don’t have principles that align with yours. Are too focused on doing what they do for their clients that they aren’t considered and don’t want to be resources for their clients. Take them off the list.
What you’ll have left are a few professionals that you trust. Two of mine are Marshall Katz and Steve Groccia.
Marshall’s wife went to nursing school with my wife. He bought Cutco Cutlery from me almost 40 years ago and referred me to others. He became my insurance agent back then and I referred him to others. Our kids grew up together. We vacationed together. It’s natural that if anyone has an issue with insurance, I refer him.
Steve and I met when our sons were involved with youth sports. He introduced me to Rotary. He’s like no commercial banker that I’ve ever met. One day, I was in his office and he asked me if I would try to help a few of his customers. I left with a dozen business cards. EVERY ONE of those people said that if Steve said that they should talk with me, they would and almost every one of them became a client of mine. The next time I was in Steve’s office, I thanked Steve and asked him how I could repay him because business owners don’t switch banks every day. He replied that I should refer him when appropriate and (this is important) I should take very good care of his customers!
Get that. Don’t worry about him. Take care of his customers!
So, as a result of the way they live, Marshall and Steve have a huge number of people that trust them and are called upon for advice even if it’s not in their area of expertise. Why? Because the people that ask them for advice expect that they will associate with other professionals with the same standards. When they steer me in the direction of someone, the bar has been set and the deal is mine unless I screw it up.
So, who are your two and do you want my help to start an inbound networking group with them?

Inbound Networking – RainMakerMaker Style

Unless you live under a rock, have a flip phone or dial-up internet access, you’ve probably heard of Inbound Networking. (If you haven’t, click the link and catch up.)

Here’s my recap:
  • It’s possible to grow your business with referral networking.
  • It’s possible to grow your business with inbound marketing.
  • It’s possible to grow your business if you are a great salesperson.
But, if you are all three, you’ll be huge! A true 21st Century RainMaker.
I will help start (help, not start) 10-12 Inbound Networking Groups in July. We will be focused on growing sales by expanding our network’s footprint and reach online and 1:1.
You will need
  • 1-2 professionals that you trust
  • a LinkedIn profile and Twitter name
  • a willingness to be ‘other centered’
  • the ability to gently say. “No” to disqualified prospects
  • a conversation with me
I will provide
  • access to my network to grow yours
  • a link on my sidebar to you or your company
  • the opportunity to write for my blog and others for every member of every group
  • help with nurturing the virtual lead into a real live customer
  • a stone wall when you need to be kept on course
  • a sounding board when needed
What’s in it for me?
  • 10-12 groups with 6-20 members in each guest posting on my blog, cross promoting, my traffic will exponentiate (as will your exposure)
  • I will find ideal new clients
Some of you are thinking, “What a sales pitch!” Good bye. Nothing more to see here.
10-12 of you are thinking, “Network with Rick and his network on a regular basis? Uh, OK.” Send me an email with your number and availability 7/5 & 6. I’ll do the rest. (I’ll be at the beach, but if you don’t mind the surf in the background, it’s where I do my best work.)
BTW, if you look at this post, you’ll see growth. It wasn’t inbound marketing, it was inbound networking.
Welcome to the 21st Century!