OPINION: Building relationships is a key element in the process of securing a strong portfolio of sales.
I had a business meeting in my office last Saturday night.
The meeting started at 8 o’clock, right after a 2.5-hour dinner. There was no beer, no wine, and no alcohol at the dinner. This was business. And everyone wanted to be at their best.
This meeting came about because I accepted the word of a 20-year friend who not only recommended that I take the first meeting, but also attended. A group of business people was trying to persuade me to buy into a software product that would help salespeople sell more, better, faster.
Like any CEO or entrepreneur, I only take the meetings that I deem are important to my company and me. My time is guarded. My time is valuable. These days, it takes a lot to get to see me for an hour. I’m always open. I’m eager to see what’s new, but I tend to take meetings through third parties – referrals and testimonials, never from a cold call.
Think about how you try to make important meetings happen – meetings with decision makers, meetings with executive officers.
I’m going to share scenarios with you from my meeting last Saturday – what happened and why it happened – so that you can try to correct, or at least upscale, the way you make an appointment with, and speak with, a chief executive decision maker.
Here are the four scenarios by which meetings occur.
The company CEO knew of me, knew that we would be a perfect fit, and chose not to call me because he knew that was the weakest way to try to get to me.
The CEO had a salesman working for him who was a fan of mine and a business friend of mine, but he chose not to utilise that resource because he felt it would not be a very powerful introduction, and that I would turn the meeting down. (Correct assumption on his part.)
One of the CEO’s best customers is a lifelong friend of mine whose opinion I greatly respect. The CEO asked my friend if he would set the meeting up. I got an email from my friend and a phone call telling me this meeting would be very worth my while, that he thought the CEO’s idea and product were a perfect fit for my business, and that I should take a meeting with him as soon as possible. My business friend indicated that he would like to be present at the meeting as well.
I couldn’t turn the meeting down. I respect my friend. He was pretty enthusiastic about the whole idea and was willing to physically be at the meeting. I couldn’t say no.
This scenario did not enter into this process. It is when the person requesting the meeting is a ‘bigger name’ than the person he or she is asking. If Warren Buffet called me on the phone and said, “Hey Jeffrey, do you have a little time to meet with me?” I would fly across the country to make that meeting.
Think about how you make your meetings. I know some of you will email me and tell me that cold calls still work, and that you make sales from them. But ask yourself seriously, would you rather have 10 appointments set up by scenario three, or 10 cold call appointments that probably took you 500 actual calls to get those appointments.
The stronger the relationship, the higher the listening factor. If you make all your meetings by scenario one or scenario two, the potential customer will still have a high degree of scepticism, and you’ll have to arrive with your sales gun loaded.
When my 20-year business friend walked in with this potential new relationship, I was listening to their every word, gave them my undivided attention, and followed-up with a Saturday night dinner, a late-night business meeting, and a deal.
The entire selling ‘cycle’ was under eight days.
1. How long is your sales cycle?
2. How powerful are your referrals?
3. How open are the doors to your prospect’s office?
3.5 How open is their wallet?
Jeffrey Gitomer is an American author, professional speaker and business trainer, who writes and lectures internationally on sales, customer loyalty and personal development. © 2017 All rights reserved. Don’t reproduce this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.