Reach out to five new people per week.
If your sales engine is performing well, your proactive pursuit never ends. You never reach a day where you can sit back and think to yourself, “Well, sales are good right now. I don’t need to pick up the phone and get in touch with new prospects”. If you have a sales background and you have ever experienced a slump, it is probably because you did just that. In order to avoid a slump, either personally or company-wide, you constantly have to engage in new conversations.
Friending people on Facebook or linking on LinkedIn are both good ways to expand your network. We suggest a better way. Reach out, proactively, to five people per week
1. One former client.
Clients always appreciate follow-up and many professionals fail to follow up with clients that represent strong relationships even after the work has been finished (if ever!). Ask a former client questions like, “What has changed in the industry?”, “What new challenges are you or your team trying to overcome?”, or even “How can I help you?”. Maintaining a relationship with a client is never a bad idea and you never know what kind of opportunities could come out of this one conversation in the future.
2. One current client you haven’t talked to in a while.
Depending on the cycle of your work, you may have lost touch with a client that is either extremely busy or hasn’t demanded a lot of your time recently. Making a quick phone call or scheduling a short meeting with them will demonstrate the fact that you are still there to service and help them in any way that you can. They may be experiencing a challenge that you can help them with, but they haven’t realized it yet. Pick up the phone and just ask them what is going on in their world, if only to gain a better understanding of where the current relationship might lead
3. One person who your former client recommends you talk to (yes, you have to ask for this).
If you are delivering outstanding work on a regular basis, you probably have happy clients. Happy clients are the best source for referrals, especially if they know someone that is currently experiencing the same situation you helped them with. Have an honest conversation with a former client and simply ask, “Is there someone you know that you think I can help?”. You would be surprised the kind of opportunities that can come from this form of ‘follow up’ as well
4. One person your current client recommends you talk to (yup!)
Just as referrals from former clients, referrals from current clients can be very beneficial. Just because the work isn’t “finished” with that current client, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities to expand your client base. Current clients are likely engaging in conversation with people in the same spheres or industries of which you already have experience. Just don’t be afraid to have the conversation
5. And one “stretch” person, or someone you have always wanted to get in front of but have never been able to meet.
We all probably have a list of “I Wish I Could Get In Contact With _____”. This list might actually be made up of referrals from current or former clients that have yet to come to fruition or it might be people that just seem to be really well connected or ‘idolized’ within a certain industry. Be disciplined about trying to get in front of these people and don’t stop until you are able to schedule a short meeting or phone call.
But wait! Before you contact each of these, what are you offering them?
Think about how you can help or what kind of questions they might have for you in advance. What insight will you bring to the table? Is it a fantastic article you’ve read? A new book by your favorite author that you found especially interesting? Some new research that might influence how they think about their own challenges? A good story?
These conversations go beyond new ‘connections’ on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social platform. Of course, social platforms are fantastic tools for engaging in new conversations; they provide you with “reach” that you cannot obtain in real, face-to-face conversations. But, the slow but steady approach of reaching out to 5 new people per week, whether they are relatively new or old contacts, gives you “richness.” Connections are only valuable if they are rich, as opposed to superficial. Which would you rather have? You might be surprised where these conversations lead.
Did you miss our first two tips to optimize your sales engine before 2013? Check them out if you haven’t!: