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Friday, 1 June 2012
Prospecting for new clients - Part II
"Bingo!" I said! This is the very point I had been trying to get them both to realize! What would Jack Welch, Lee Iacocca or Oprah Winfrey do if they were in your position? They would sell themselves, wouldn't they?! They certainly wouldn't be sending spam-faxes annoying people over the wasted paper, sending e-mail by the thousand ticking people off by clogging up their inboxes with unwanted messages. And they wouldn't waste a single minute cold-calling strangers who don't have time to talk to them anyway! Can you honestly see Jack Welch, Lee Iacocca or Oprah Winfrey taking their companies to the top with such methods?
Wong actually thought that Welch and Co. would fax, e-mail, call, direct mail, etc. on a massive scale. But Iskandar got it. "Yes," he said, "Selling yourself to your prospect as a person who is driven to 'do the right thing' for the client is big news."
So, what would they do instead?
Here's where I have a problem with Wong's answer - why would someone like Jack Welch, Lee Iacocca or Oprah Winfrey do something on a massive scale that they know would offend or upset the very people they want to sell to, if not now, later? To my way of thinking, that's like someone going fishing and starting off by throwing rocks in the river. (For non-fishermen, that would frighten all the fish away.)
How can you hope to sell yourself as a person who is driven to do the right things for their client, as Iskandar says, by starting off the relationship wasting their fax paper and adding to the spam in their inbox? It's not congruent. You set yourself up as a liar.
Somehow, I just cannot see Welch, Iacocca or Winfrey sitting at the telephone all day cold-calling, getting rejected, being put on hold, being transferred to voicemail, playing cat-and-mouse with secretaries and telephone operators. I just cannot see it. I'm sure they would try it, because, remember, we have dropped them into a field they (presumably) know nothing about. But I don't think it would take more than an hour before they say to themselves: This is a waste of time! I must find a better way.
As Iskandar realized, the small business owner's best advantage is themselves. They are the owner of the business - how often does the owner of a business personally attend to a client? People love that 'special' treatment - being served by the owner rather than an employee.
I believe Jack Welch, Lee Iacocca and Oprah Winfrey, would call their personal list of contacts and ask them "Who do you know that would need my services?" When given a name, Jack-Lee-Oprah would ask them for an introduction - you could do it on a three way call. After the relationship is established (i.e. you have shown them some value) ask your new friend "Who do you know that would need my services?"
Wash, rinse, repeat!
People tend to buy from people they like and trust a whole lot quicker than someone who cold-called them. You don't have to be a Jack Welch, Lee Iacocca and Oprah Winfrey to do this. Everyone knows at least 100 people they could call in this manner. Some of these would be remote, perhaps, but a few of that 100 would be people you have already helped. In Wong and Iskandar's case, IT people they have already placed and company HR people they have already served.
Without doubt, Jack Welch, Lee Iacocca and Oprah Winfrey would network their way to the decision makers they needed to reach. If you dropped them into a new business, that wouldn't negate their contacts in other businesses. In the same way, when you started out in your business, your addressbook of the people you already knew didn't go blank!
It's called leveraging your pre-established relationships into new ones.
It's been my experience that a good portion of business is done this way at high levels, and it works well at all levels. The challenge for the small business owner is that most people don't have the courage to leverage their personal relationships for business purposes - they somehow think it's seedy. Or, if they do have the courage, their friends think they are somehow being 'used.' On the other hand wealthy people do it all the time because it is smart and efficient.
After my conversation with Wong and Iskandar, Wong reported having sent out a thousand unsolicited e-mails and 500 unsolicited faxes and that produced 5 new leads in a matter of a couple of days. It means, however, there are now 1,495 new people out there who were inconvenienced by that fax message or e-mail. Let's hope they don't remember who sent it!
Iskandar, in the meanwhile, started approaching people he knew for referrals. When calling the referral, he was quite nervous, he said, and that seemed to work to his advantage. He just told whoever answered the phone why he was calling and asked them if they could help him. He apologized for being nervous and said he wasn't a salesman or anything, he was just a person who found IT people for companies needing them. In no time, he was getting a client for every two telephone calls!