January 11, 2012

It’s Not Who You Know – It’s Who You Know Well

BY John Paul Narowski IN Sales and Marketing 0 Comment

Clients are valuable to our business and they are much more than numbers in our books. To us, they mean income, pipeline referrals, stability, and growth.

Your social capital directly impacts your financial capital. So, how does your social portfolio look?

First of all, ask yourself: What are the common frames of reference for my clients?

What are the common themes, interests, activities and goals for your client? If you know their business, the industry, their sphere of influence and most importantly what’s important to them.  You will be seen more as a valuable adviser than someone who is “merely selling”.

The second step: Research.

Look for things that they’ve already told you, even if you weren’t asking. Clients appreciate someone who is “aware” of what goes on in their business. Look at current purchases, preferences, and general information that is already there for you to see.

My favorite source of information for this is their “wall of fame.” It could be in their office such as a shelf area with the latest boating picture; reunion; ski trip; along with trinkets and memorabilia from events gone by.  It could be that wall of their office which displays their diploma, certificates, plaques of appreciation.  If you’re online, then it could be their Facebook timeline cover photo, their Pinterest board (Pinterest is an online social board where you can “pin” your “interests” and share them) , their Twitter favorites and background, or their LinkedIn recommendation and groups.  All are sources rich in insight into your client.

A few questions to ask

Now it’s time to focus on an interactive conversation. For clients, there are some invaluable questions that you need to focus on in order to better serve them. Aside from basic information (age, household, sex), ask questions that start a conversation. Conversations are where you get to know how someone acts, thinks, and perhaps what they want from your product or service. So make sure that your questions are open-ended so that you allow for unique and personal answers.

  1. Start with the classic with a twist:  Instead of so tell me more or about your business. The question could be – What does success in your business or industry look like?
  2. After that question, one of my personal favorites is – If you could change one thing about your business (job, CRM tool, staff, training – whichever pertains to how you can help or what began the conversation/connection) to make it better, what would that be? The key here is to – be quiet.  Their answer will tell you so much about who they are, what they’re needs are and their focus.  If you interrupt the answer or answer for them because their response is delayed, then you lose all the good info you “could of” gotten.

These questions can be useful for new clients, yet remember your veterans, too.  Do you want to know a question that will even make that connection more profitable?

If you could change one thing about the way we work together, for the better, what would that be?

Ask, but don’t interrogate

You don’t want your client to go into defensive mode nor to get the impression that you’re “just a drone” going through a series of questions required by your sales manager.  In fact, no one is excited to work with someone who behaves like a drone.  We like and want to work with someone who is at the best in their field and at the top of their game.   Remember, to keep it conversational .  Even if formality is your style, you don’t want to seem like a lawyer cross-examining a witness.

Your business depends on your relationships.  It is no longer, “who you know and who knows you” it’s gone to the next level – who do you know well?

I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

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