Tips and stories to add value to you and your organisation
If there’s one thing that seems to cause heartache for people in business, it’s selling.
Unless, that is, they happen to be a sales person, in which case they love it. They have skills and motivation that many find hard to replicate and they love to live on the edge, where month end results can make the difference between bonus excitement, or bounce-out exit.
For us ordinary mortals we have to find ways to keep selling, knowing that if we stop then our business will slowly sink, like a leaky boat.
Networking is the smart way to sell because people buy people. A referral to a third party skips over the need to explain ourselves and convince someone of our worth. The personal touch warms people up to us and is hard to beat.
We can also advertise and make sure we have a range of marketing initiatives on the go, to make sure we get our message out into the world. Leaflets, speaking engagements, tweets, blogs and event sponsorship all have value. It often doesn’t matter what we do, as long as we do it consistently and play the long game. Dropping a couple of Facebook adverts are going to achieve nothing. We need to pick a channel and stick at it.
Similarly we can do what I call ‘narrow networking’ whereby we make friends and build alliances with key people.
Rather than a shotgun approach, where we pepper business cards at people over breakfast, narrow networking means that we decide who is important to us and we spend time with them to build a solid relationship and develop products and services together.
This approach leads naturally to collaborative selling. Two heads are often better than one and we can gain motivation and ideas by working as a tiny team of two.
We need a clear contract to be successful, so we know how we will work together and want the other person requires from us. A contract in this context doesn’t mean a weighty legal document, although sometimes a signature can help to provide clarity when things go awry. It means an agreed list of items, such as how we will sell, deliver and bill clients. Insurance and cancellation policies are also worth talking about. We tend to assume we will be successful and it pays to think ahead and plan for contingencies, or for clients who don’t play fair.
When it comes to selling ourselves we can go to meetings together, or at least discuss things with our colleague beforehand.
Selling can be a lonely and stressful activity, so having a chum to back us up can help to reduce the pressure and increase our success.
I’m well known for liking cake and my starting point when looking for someone to collaborate with is to invite them out for coffee and cake and to chat and gently see if there is a working relationship to be had.
My view is that life is hard enough, so why not have cake and make business meetings enjoyable?
We can all find ways to help ourselves in business and collaborative selling is one of my favourites.
So, this week who could you invite out for cake and begin a collaborative relationship with?
I’m always available for chocolate eclairs, or a slice of Victoria sponge, by the way..!
Next week: Booking Creativity
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Brilliant ways to increase performance, stay employed and keep the money rolling in
Published 2011 Marshall Cavendish
Secrets and skills to sell yourself effectively in the Modern Age
Published 2010 Marshall Cavendish
An insider's guide to working for yourself
Published 2007 Cyan Books and Marshall Cavendish