No matter how brilliant the idea might be and how perfectly the stars are aligned, a business grows ONE customer at a time.
ONE sale is extraordinarily great and 10 is 10 times the first, and there are many more before small becomes big.
Small means that every single customer is critical and must be well served through the prospecting step, the sales step and the customer service step.
And if we do not serve and learn from our customers and prospects while we are small, we will never become big.
Small is where we learn how to be a business. Small is where we learn what customers really want, how they want it and how can we really deliver it. If we overlook these small sales, we will never become big.
Prior to making the movie, Disney pursued P.L. for 18 years, asking permission to convert her books into a movie. She eventually relented and the movie, Saving Mr. Banks is the story of the clash of wills between these two.
The reason why this took 18 years was almost unavoidable back then and it is a mistake that should not occur today.
The mistake was that Disney did not know anything about P.L. Travers, including that this was a pen name. Her real name was Helen Goff. She was the daughter of Travers Goff, the inspiration behind her pen name.
Finally in 1961, P.L. comes to California and begins to interact with the Disney creative team. She becomes exasperated, abruptly leaves and returns home to London. In reviewing the receipts for the various things Disney paid for, Walt discovers her real name and asks, “Have I been talking to the wrong person?”
He then flies to London and for the first time converses not with P.L Travers, but with Helen Goff. It is a completely different kind of conversation. He finally conversed on her level, in her terms and not on his.
Back then it is understandable that Disney knew very little about Helen Goff and P.L. Travers. And Disney could be excused for thinking that his reputation and track record would be all that any writer could possible want.
But in today’s internet dominated world, the mistake of not knowing your prospect should not happen.
Today the internet provides the information that was not available to Disney then. Today, if and when we know the customer with whom we really and truly would like to do business — you know the kind that we might continually pursue for 18 years (or months, or days) — we would be very well served to take the time to know the person we are about to meet and take some time in getting to know them.
A professional meeting is one that has been planned, and scheduled. It is usually not the very first meeting between the parties. This is a meeting of parties who have advanced their relationship, and investing some time to research each other is now warranted.
LinkedIn not only makes this research easier it provides information that, prior to LinkedIn, was impossible to gather.
Linkedin links to business intelligence: Connect on LinkedIn with every person who is to be at the meeting.  Visit each attendees’ LinkedIn Profile
- Check out those you’ve not yet met. Learn their background and anything you have in common with them.
- Check out “How You’re Connected”. Call and ask these connections for some insights
- Check out your prospects’ 2nd degree connections. These are people they might introduce you to.
- Check out their “recent activity”. Which might reveal their current events, challenges, or future objectives.
- The LinkedIn company page is a company penned blog meant to share news and current events with their followers.
- Through LinkedIn’s Advanced Search you can identify former employees who often provide insight, more freely.
- Layout your prospect’s organizational chart with names and titles. And using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search filters “title” and “company”, learn the names of these position holders.
Good intelligence is the key to persuasion and negotiation.
Prepare to win.
Each stage is a brilliant experience that should be enjoyed and savored, not rushed. And if each stage is managed well, our customer will be a raving fan, happy to endorse, refer and recommend.
There are 3 stages in the customer development process.
What problem can you solve? More specifically, what problem can you solve for whom?
These two parameters are the heart and soul of your value proposition. You have to know your audience and you have to know what their challenges, issues or problems are. If you know these not, you have nothing.
The more specific you can be in terms of “for whom”, the more enjoyable and fulfilling will your career be.
It is not what you do that matters … not at all. What matters is for whom you do it. The “whoms” are the ones who make payment. And it’s their challenges, issues and problems that move them.
If you can identify your “whoms” and feel their pain, you will be in a very good sales position.
I endorse Sandler sales training and am happy to introduce you to my friend Chad Cuttino, the most disciplined sales professional I have ever met.
Anything written about doing business prior to 2008 may be obsolete. Thus, asking for the order, which has been sales mantra since cave men were trading rocks, might be obsolete.
Sandler teaches that we DO NOT ask for the order.
Try it, you’ll like it. And if you don’t understand why, how or whatever, I’ll be delighted to introduce you to my friend Chad.
How good are you really? In the sales game, can you talk people into doing things they really don’t want to do?
Look back over your last 10 sales. How many were the result of your silver-tongue; your being able to overcome objections flawlessly and product knowledge so complete that you truly were the guru of fabled lore? And no one could resist your charm, charisma and … oh please.
Stop it. Your words have little to do with their decision. What matters is your civility, your respect, your concern … your ability to uncover, understand and care about their issue.
The hard part is to earn their favor so that you have the opportunity to be there when they need you.
Compel? No. Impel? No. Care? Yes.
The secret to referrals is that they occur one person at a time. And the truth is that no matter what label you choose, referral, recommendation, testimonial or introduction, the event is just an introduction – the opportunity for 2 strangers to meet.
Regardless of the incredibly brilliant adjectives used to describe either or both parties, the result will be two strangers meeting for the first time.
But I digress. The stranger issue is not the topic today.
The point today is if we want our connectors to introduce us to a prospect, we need to stop asking for REFERRALS and start asking for a referral.
The secret to a referral is that it occurs one person at a time. Therefore, when speaking with your leads group or your current customers or your next door neighbor, ask not for some, ask for one.
Here are two high quality ways to ask for an introduction :  I would like to meet Bill Gates (or any specific individual). Might you be able to help me meet him?  Recently, I completed a project for John Doe, he is a financial advisor with ABC Advisors (use your most recent or most favorite customer). It was a great experience. If or when you might have the chance, might you introduce me to your Financial Advisor?
The truth is all we can do is introduce. We can add a plethora of positive adjectives and adverbs, but the introduction is NOT going to make your sale.
Too many people speak of “referrals” (plural) as the magic formula to success. But let’s be clear. When we speak in plural, we mean more than one of our connections introducing us. We do not mean one of our connections making several introductions.
Should we ever ask one of our connections for the plural, we are asking too much. Instead, ask for ONE – ONE specific introduction to ONE specific person.
Each week if you ask 2 of your connections to introduce you to ONE person, I’ll bet you’ll get more introductions than ever before.
Who exactly would you like to be introduced to?
When meeting a potential prospect for the first time, be nice, predictable, similar, and seek to be liked, not hired or bought.
If you requested the meeting, it is your meeting and your objective is to allow your guest to feel comfortable and to leave the meeting thinking well of you. The goal is for them to like you and think warmly of you.
As a rule people think well of those they like. We like people for many different reasons, but one simple thing to remember is we like people who are like us; similar to us. This is not always true and not the only reason, but it is a simple and fairly common condition.
Getting to know someone, building a relationship is a matter of discovery and a good question to initiate this journey is, “Where are you from?”
And then, actively listen.
She doesn’t work hard for the sales she produces. She makes it look easy. Her numbers are great. She doesn’t put in the hours we do. She never complains. And her numbers are great every month. She’s just an order taker.
Oh, but if I could be like her…
Two things:  applaud the order takers. Embrace the idea. It’s a good one. Stop belittling it.  In most cases the secret ingredient is trust. Her clients trust her. They know who she is, what she can and can’t do and how to do business with her. She has earned their trust. She likes them. She wants to help them.
Earning trust has little to do with closing the sale. It has everything to do with mutual respect, care and concern. It starts with getting to know the people her clients are. It is always about individual people and what is in it for them.