Category Archives: Strategy

Whale Hunting, Land Big Sales and Transform Your Company

whalehunteringbookOften when I am networking I hear small business owners say things like “I really want to have Eli Lilly, AT&T or GE as one of my clients.” Whenever I hear this I cringe, because I know that it is not enough to want one of these giant companies as a client, you have to have a plan. Not just a plan to land the deal, but a plan to find it and then how are you going to maintain that client.

In her book, Whale Hunting, Barbara Weaver Smith and Tom Searcy, uses the analogy of how the Inuit of Alaska hunted Whales to feed their villages to how small companies can land the Whale of their own. This is an easy analogy follow and carries with it a powerful story of perseverance, commitment, strategy and success.

Barbara and Tom layout the strategy for researching which whale you want to hunt, how to research your whale, capturing your whale, and celebrating your whale. This is a book that you must read if you are really interested in landing your own whale.

Networking is great, but you cannot ask for a referral to a whale if you do not have a plan for landing and managing that whale.  There have been several occasions when I knew I could get a person in the door of their whale but I also knew once caught they would not be able to keep the whale.

I cannot recommend this book enough, it is an easy read, and not only will you learn how to land your own whale there is a lot of very interesting history in this book that holds your attention as you read in amazement what the Alaskan Inuit could dowhale-hunting with a row boat and harpoon. The planning, the implementing and the celebration are inspiring.

As a bonus, Barbara will be doing a whale hunting women workshop here in Indianapolis. It is a program that you want to take advantage of, not only for the educational aspect but for the ability to network with other women whale hunters. See you there!

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Develop Your Networking Relationships

two-people1Business people spend a lot of time networking, some times it is important to slow down and develop relationships with the people that you have added to your network.  In the book “The 29% Solution” by Dr. Ivan R Misner and Michelle Donovan, they discuss tactics for building better relationships with your network members.  The more we get to know our network members the more credibility we build with them.

Here are 5 questions to ask your network member that will allow you to develop a deeper relationship.

1.  What would yo like to accomplish with your business this year?

2.  What are your challenges this year?

3.  What is standing in the way of your meeting yur goals?

4.  How can I help you?

5.  What do you need to help you be successful?

Pay attention to what you hear, make notes and set out to help your network member.  It is important to spend time working on your network instead of doing more networking.  The deeper you develop your network the more valuable it becomes.

Make it easy for your referral sources

If you want to get more referrals from people in your network, you have to be able to make it easy for them to find and give those referrals to you.   They want to help you, but most will not step out of their comfort zone to make it happen,

Here are 5 things to help you start the process of making it easy;

1. What should I listen for? I am with people all of the time, and many of them are complaining about something, or sharing great news, or contemplating a decision. Each of these conversations present opportunities to develop referrals for you.

2. What visual clue might I see that would lead me to recommend or refer you? Are there things that are common to signals that a person might need you? Such as someone who’s car has a dent in it and you are an auto body shop owner.

3. Are there things that I might see that would help me recognize someone as your target market? Like a motor cycle or boat in a drive way for the insurance agent.

4. What kind of things might be happening that would lead me to believe that someone is in the market for your services? A child being born, and child going to college, or a new business that just opened?

5. Is there an activity that you clients often engage in? Such as running in mini-marathons, jogging, bike riding, working out, skiing, or any number of activities that would help me identify our clients?

The more you can paint a picture for your network members the easier it is going to be for them to help you. Unfortunately, this means that you have to give some thought to what and who you are looking for as clients. Anybody or everybody will not be as effective. Profile you clients and teach your network members how to spot the clues.

Learn Somthing New

If you are not growing you are dying! Part of growing is the act of learning something new, consistently.   So, let me ask you, what are you learning that is new right now?

I am an avid seeker of knowledge, I hated school and wasted a scholarship, but I love to learn.  It is my goal to learn something new all the time, this year it is Spanish.

I have decided to learn Spanish,  so I am hosting Spanish Classes in my Referral Institute training center.   I invited several hundred people to join me in learning Spanish.  I figure there is this whole population of people whom I cannot network with effectively and that means I am losing business to people who can connect with them.  I thought other business people would feel the same way, but that has not been the case.  Of the 600 people I invited to participate, only 10 showed up to learn.

What a pity, what an opportunity loss.  It is so vital that we find new markets, new networks, new connectors and influencers and new ways of doing business.  Still no one was interested in this opportunity to expand their knowledge and their businesses.

Those same people who spent so much time telling me they could not afford the time, or the money are the very same people who will tell me six months from now, that they don’t have any business, or business is slow.

If you are going to stay in business, you need to learn something new, like Social Networking, Web 2.0, Spanish, how to get in front of more prospects or how to close more deals.  Because those who are learning will out perform you and your customers might become theirs.

Unfortunately,  many business people spend more time telling me what they can’t do instead of finding ways to figure out what they can do.

Now is not the time to pull back on investing in yourself, your company and your staff.  Now more than ever it is important to learn something new!  Money and time invested in yourself and your team is always money well spent.

Referrals Require Trust

Trust, I recently reviewed a book on trust, I am not sure how many people read it but I will say in the world of referrals, trust is the most important aspect of the referral relationship.

I read blogs and articles all the time talking about your elevator pitch, your message, your handshake, your networking activities and blah, blah, blah.  While all of this is great information for “Networking” and developing your “Word of Mouth” marketing it is not the thing that will get you the level of referrals that you are looking for.  The reality is when it comes to referring you,  I don’t care how good your message is, if your handshake is the best and you are the best networker in town!

What I do care about is this:  IF I give you a referral, when you are done with that referral will I still look good in the eyes of the person I referred?  My reputation, what people think of me and about me is important to me. The number one reason that people do not pass “Qualified Referrals” is the trust issue.  They do not want to risk their name.

With very little trust I can give out all kinds of leads, because my name is not closely tied to the lead, it will not have a major affect on me if it goes bad so I don’t mind taking the chance.

I had to learn this the hard way,  I referred a person to one of my very good friends, we will call him Joe Smith.  Joe owned a very successful printing company who employed several hundred people.  One day Bill asked for a referral to Joe, I did not know Bill very well but he seemed OK,  so I referred him to Joe.

Bill was late to the first meeting, Bill did not follow up after the meeting in a timely manner, in fact Bill dropped the ball in many ways with Joe.  The very next time I saw Joe was at a cocktail party and of course the conversation came around to business and here is the comment that Joe made to the entire group, “Don’t let Hazel refer you to any of the Yahoos in her network, what a joke.”  Ouch!  Not only was I hurt by Bills poor performance, my entire network was now unable to be referred to Joe who actually was in need of many more services that my network could have provided.

Lessons learned:

1.  Only “refer” those whom your know well and have a high level of trust with.  I do not have to worry about my reputation when I put the referral in the hands of one of my trusted referral partners.

2.  Stay involved with the referral.  Had I bothered to follow up with both parties during and after the referral I would have known what was going on and could have saved my reputation as well as my networks. All to often we pass referrals and never think about them again.

3.  Give feedback to the person you referred, they may or may not be aware of the issue and at the very least they should know why you are not going to refer them again.

Sometimes the best lessons are the hardest lessons.  If you are getting a lot of low level leads from your network, ask yourself what you need to do to increase your trust.  Take time to build trust with people and you will find that the referrals you get are of a much higher quality.

The Speed of Trust

The Speed of Trust

The Speed of Trust

I think that one of the best tips that I can pass along to all of you, are the books I have read and how they have impacted my business. This week I would like to tell you about a book that I believe is very pertinent to the referral process. The Speed of Trust, written by Stephen M.R. Covey.

Trust or Credibility is the most important aspect of building your business by referral. If a person does not trust you, they are never ever going to refer business to you. Equally, if they do not trust your team or business they will be reluctant to refer to you. In the past I believed that there was little that you could do to speed up trust or manage trust. That changed recently when I picked up a copy of “The Speed of Trust”. Speed and trust do not really seem to go hand in hand, after all you can’t rush trust or can you?

Stephen explains the high cost to organizations and individuals to have no trust or low trust. He also bust the myths that we have about trust and address the reality of trust, for instance it is a common belief that “You can’t teach trust.” Reality is “trust can be effectively taught and learned, and it can become a leverageable, strategic advantage.” Read the book to get the other 7 Myths.

The foundation of the book is the discussion of the 5 waves of trust, self trust, relationship trust, organizational trust, market trust, and societal trust with the steps and tips for building each of these levels.

BONUS:   Take a look at his website, The Speed of Trust there are variety of resources for you to take advantage of, get a Complimentary analysis of your personal credibility or an Online survey to assess the level of trust colleagues, friends, and others have in you. I was surprised by my results!

Get the book today, you will be glad you did!   TRUST ME!

If Referrals are Important, Why are they Random?

I am always interested in learning how people generate referrals for their business.  So, when I am networking I will ask the people I meet the following questions;  How much of your business is  by referral and the response is often 50% or more.  That always leads me to my next question, do you have a tracking system or is that a good guess?  It is usually just a guess.

For most networkers, referrals are completely random and go something like this:

If someone calls me up and ask me if I know someone who can help them, and if I can remember if I know someone who can help them and if I can find the number of that person and give it to the person who just called me, and if they will pick up the phone and call the person I recommended, then they got a referral!  The average networker is very excited because they believe that their network is working.  But it is completely random and reactive.

Do you have a system for generating referrals?  If referrals are important to your business, shouldn’t you have a system that you can count on?

Shouldn’t you know who you best referral sources are?

Shouldn’t you know how and when your referrals will show up?

Shouldn’t you have a system to track your networking activities?

Shouldn’t you have a system in place for thanking your referral sources?

Really, why are your referral random?

Organizations like the Referral Institute have created programs and software to help business professionals get out of the “If” referrals to developing a system that generates referrals consistently.

If referrals are important to you then why are they so random?  With organizations like the Referral Institute and books like The 29% Solution they do not have to be.