How to Review Your Referral Partners

When to move on in a referral relationship is a question that comes up often and I thought today was a good day to chat about it. In the past week alone I have had 3 clients make the decision to ‘move on’ from a potential partner or new relationship without really giving it a fair chance. I have hopefully talked them out of moving on, but want to open up this conversation with my ‘tribe’ on Linked In. Let’s start with why you would fire a referral partner: ·        Misrepresentation of their capabilities to deliver. There is no fake it til you make it with referral relationships. Your partners put their reputation at stake, it’s a risk that shouldn’t be rewarded with you practicing with a new marketpotentially at their expense. If you are taking a proven concept to a similar client that you have multitudes of experience with, that’s a different story. Be clear on what you can do and make sure you are overdelivering and underpromising with all introductions, otherwise, expect to get a pink slip from your partners. ·        Making bad introductions. Referral relationships invest their valuable time with you educating you on who they serve, what a good client looks like and even more importantly who’s not a fit. Time is precious and if you make introductions to ‘spiders’ and waste your partner’s time you deserve to go back to cold calling. ·        Bad Behavior. Sometimes people behave badly and you can’t afford to have your reputation tied to someone who doesn’t have the ethical standards to represent you or your brand, which is at stake with every...

Is “Rain” Happening in Your Prospecting Effort?

Are opportunities plentiful for you with your relationships? Or are you experiencing a ‘drought’? “In like a lamb, out like a lion” is the phrase commonly used to describe March weather and we can certainly identify with that in Kansas. This is a state where you can literally experience all four seasons in one week, from blizzard to spring thunderstorms – we affectionately call this ‘Thundersnow’ (cue AC/DC playing Thunderstruck in the background). I think these crazy weather patterns really provide great insight into the rhythms we adopt in our prospecting effort. We start and are gung ho with tornadic breeze levels of effort, lightning fast execution of basic ideas and then it fades into a gentle breeze that doesn’t even move a leaf along. I had the distinct pleasure of sitting in on a presentation on innovation given by 9 Steps grad Jon McGraw of Vision Pursue and Jose Pires of Black & Veatch Leadership Institute of Business Excellence. During this presentation, Jose spoke about how ideas are everywhere, discipline to execute however, is very rare. I see this so often with professionals I engage with in the community and recognize that the majority of the value I bring as a coach/mentor is to remind them to identify the right level of activity and follow it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. of EVERY. SINGLE. WEEK. of EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. Yes I raised my voice. The biggest lesson you learn when embarking on any journey is to stay the course and recognize it is a very long, arduous journey full of fun pit stops and distractions that can divert you from...
Three Ways Thought Leadership Can Transform Your Business

Three Ways Thought Leadership Can Transform Your Business

TED Talks, Ignite, and Steve Jobs created a new art form—the thought leader talk. While we tend to idolize our favorite TEDx speakers, the real news is that you—yes, YOU!—can be a thought leader in your industry. In fact, investing the time into crafting provocative presentations might be the most worthwhile thing you can do to bolster your business to new heights. Thought leader talks are a little different than a persuasive or educational speech. It’s not a sales pitch, a motivational speech, or an informational presentation, but something completely different. A thought leader talk can be a story, or an exploration of new ideas. Thought leader talks can be very personal. Above all, a thought leader talk needs to offer your audience new insights and challenge conventional thinking. Creating talks like this can be challenging, but the rewards for putting the time and energy are incredible. Here are just a few ways that thought leader presentations can expand your influence and supercharge your business. Increased opportunities: Thought leader talks can position you as an expert in your field. The more you demonstrate your knowledge, the more you can attract bigger clients and larger opportunities. In effect, you’re probably not going to make bank as a speaker or generate millions from your YouTube channel. But by creating useful, intriguing content, you’ll be building up your credibility and professional reputation, all of which is great bait for attracting those bigger fish. Connection: Attracting clients is one thing, but it’s just as important to attract other like-minded people who can help you along your way. It’s not just about getting “likes”...
Success Can Be Hazardous

Success Can Be Hazardous

When can landing new business be a dangerous thing? We work diligently in our prospecting effort to land the next BIG ONE. I wrote a previous post on how to land your biggest client ever. It’s a topic that is often discussed as a primary goal to your business development action plan. Let’s talk about when it can be a disastrous move for your business. Size matters in your prospecting effort. Bigger is better. More is Good. It’s all about Excess in Prospecting. Every workshop I teach my participants are all about bagging Bear. Not always is it a good idea to go find a big client, let’s talk about why this can be a bad thing. You have a limited reservoir of the most critical aspect of relationship building and management – time. Every client relationship you bring in – even if someone else does the actual work in delivering your product, requires an ongoing investment of time with you. People buy you, they don’t buy your company. Your reputation and referrability is tied directly to the quality of experience your client has, if it’s stinky, you won’t get referred by them or used by them again. This means you need to know the different transition points within a client engagement – when does the relationship mature. Think of it like dating. There’s the initial attraction stage, the chase, engagement and finally marriage. I’ve been married for more of my life than not married so as the years pass, it’s harder to remember that initial moment when I fell in lust with how he looked in a pair of...
Why Be Ordinary When You Can Be Extraordinary? 

Why Be Ordinary When You Can Be Extraordinary? 

Are there days you ask yourself why you do what you do?  I know many of the professionals I coach will stop and ask themselves this question.  Often when they are experiencing not so great results from a lot of hard work.  We spend 1/3rd of our days at work, sometimes more.  And that’s ½ of our waking hours.  We enter the workforce when we are 20 (sometimes sooner) and we exit at 70+ (remember the ‘new normal’ with retirement planning and social security- don’t get me started) that’s 50+ years you devote to a professional career.  God promises us 3 score and 10 (translates to 70 years in non-Bible math) in our life.  So if we are promised a lifespan of 70 years and more than 2/3rds of that is devoted to our profession, shouldn’t it be something worthwhile? I ask you these questions to get you thinking about what you do in sales.  I was visiting with a group of sales professionals who thought by expanding their relationship with their clients it would appear as if they were ‘just selling more stuff’.  Is that really what you consider a career of sales? People buy solutions from people they know, like and trust.  I don’t know about you, but if someone is ‘just selling something’ they don’t fit into the ‘know, like and trust’ category.   There are a few really smart people I know that are always seeking innovation.  They adopt new habits, buy new technology and hire the best service providers.  I call them when I am looking for a solution.  I do this because I –...
What’s Your Number?

What’s Your Number?

In an introductory meeting this morning I had a potential referral partner make a profound statement.  He said ‘my number for my clients needs to be 1-800- HELP – ME’.   This was shared as he related the position he consistently worked to achieve with his clients.  He wanted to be the first call they made when they had an issue and his role was to serve as a gateway to whatever solution his clients needed.  He just happened to be a financial advisor.  Note he didn’t say he wanted to be the gateway to whatever financial solution his clients had, but any issue they had.  What this highly successful professional recognized is that to earn a position of trust with your relationships, you need to invest effort in building emotional capital through serving their needs, beyond his self-interest. What advice do you provide?  Are you strictly a subject matter expert about your field?  Or are you smart about business and an avenue to resources needed?  One of the first areas of self discovery to explore with your clients is how do they view you.  This is one of the most important discussions you can have with them.  You notice the conversation needs to take place with your clients – this is not an exercise in contemplation of your navel.  I don’t care about what youthink your clients think about you, I care about what they actually think.  Their perception is your reality.  Like it or not. By interviewing your clients you gain insight into your true value proposition and also this gives you the chance to explore all of the issues on the periphery of you...
Turbocharge Your Relationships for 2015

Turbocharge Your Relationships for 2015

What an amazing year! And like the one before, it seems to get faster and faster as we get older. One of the greatest benefits of aging is gaining wisdom through life experiences – both your own and others. As we reflect on 2014 and look through our experiences, I encourage you to think of who enriched your life this year. If your schedule is like mine, holiday parties, family activities, gift buying, wrapping up year end, etc all seem to take every spare moment until there is not a single moment to just be. I encourage you to really take a few moments, carve them out, and look back on who really added to 2014.   I was reading a great article this weekend in the Huffington Post  that talked about the 5 lists to make in reviewing your year. After reviewing their list (and enjoying the post tremendously) I thought I would share with you my own top 5 lists to make. And in the spirit of our tagline – SalezWORKS where relationships meet opportunity, I will talk with you about the top 5 lists of relationships to develop, nurture and grow in 2015.   1. Let’s start with your top new relationships in 2014 – this one is a pretty obvious place to begin. Take a look back at the people who have led you to great new clients, introduced you to new productive referral partnerships, enriched your knowledge base or has just proven to be a fabulous person to know. All of these are critical components belong in your center of influence. If you wish...
Is Monogamy Overrated?

Is Monogamy Overrated?

With referral partners? Made you look, didn’t I? This topic of conversation has arisen this week even more than it usually does, which inspired me to write this post.  We cultivate relationships with referral partners hoping to gain those quality introductions, not be one of 3 on a list that is emailed over with no added insight from referrer. Introductions are something many struggle with to obtain from referral partners.  It makes the difference between a 10% chance of getting the deal to a nearly 90% with a highly influential referrer.  We often run with ‘you can use my name when you call’ permission from the referrer just because we don’t want to push our luck. What does this have to do with monogamy? The question is, should you only have one referral partner in a given profession?  Is it cheating to have more than one? Let’s consider a few factors…. When an introduction is made, risk is taken by the referrer opening a door to a valuable relationship that could be lost if you screw up.  I think just about anyone who has been in business for a significant time has been present and accounted for at a train wreck and I know of a few that have even caused the death of a few companies.  Much is at stake. Trust is key.  Which necessitates open doors of communication with referral partners about exactly who is, and who is not, a great referral.   When I ask ‘who is a great client for you?’ and the response is ‘anyone who has a business, job, pulse, etc’ I am immediately...
4 Questions to Ensure You’re Doing what Needs to be Done!

4 Questions to Ensure You’re Doing what Needs to be Done!

Eeek!  I’ve got all these things I have to get done this week and I just don’t know where to start to make a dent!  I am behind on my quota and not quite sure where to go or what to do to hit my numbers for the year/month/week.  Sound familiar?  Let’s talk prioritization… This is actually an area I find the most challenging.  Typically we gravitate towards those activities we are the most comfortable doing and procrastinate on those we are less comfortable with.  Most sales professionals have their favorite activities and these are those that get done consistently, I like many sales people, hate reports.  I will procrastinate with the best of them to avoid filing out my own sales projections, invoice requests or following up with that billing issue.   “The new phone book has arrived, I bet there are businesses I haven’t contacted yet, I have to get my prospecting calls in”  is my mantra when it is time for bi-monthly billing.  And then I have that Midwestern work ethic fulfillment from prospecting (my favorite activity).  We all deal with this issue, just in different areas and some better than others. Let’s talk through developing your priorities for sales. Who has already engaged you?  What have you sold that you are responsible for delivering on those commitments.  Take care of those who are committed to you because of you.  Remember your prospects bought because of your ability to prove to them you were the solution to their issues.  Deliver. What have you committed to?  Many sales people fail to follow through on their commitments. This is...
Creating Win Win Relationships

Creating Win Win Relationships

I remember my dad’s advice at a young age – the best way to ensure mediocrity is to attempt to make everyone happy. It reminds me of a quote from Aristotle, “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” It seems as if you are taught early in your career, the customer is always right is rule #1.  And rule # 2 is when the customer is wrong, read rule #1.  That is instilled into us early and often in our career and in my humble opinion – it sets us up to be doormats. Miller Heiman talks about how our relationships with clients fit into one of 4 quadrants – win/win, win/lose, lose/win and lose/lose. We know we want to live in the first quadrant, but yet often set ourselves up for one of the others through expectations that are established.  We then second guess or undermine our own position, try to anticipate what the other person wants and in general make life much harder than it has to be. Here are a few ideas I myself continue to work towards in win/win relationships.  Know when I win.  Whenever I am looking at an opportunity, I am thinking about what does a great outcome look like for me.  This seems simple but often times we think of a superficial outcome without really looking deeper into the implications.  Think of the really really big client that could represent a lot of revenue or income to you personally, but limits your ability to find any other accounts.  You may end up losing in the...