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Archive for January 2013

Let it Grow

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“Being comfortable isn’t the way to learn to expand your abilities.” ~~Thomas Perry

Scarcity or abundance?  We all bump against this view over and over again.  Your philosophy here guides your actions that ultimately drive your results.  Follow that path to see a solid definition of self-perpetuating beliefs.  If you have a scarcity mentality your actions become increasingly desperate…making you less referable.

Do not misunderstand.  You must compete for new business—even within your referral group.  The first thing you have to do is establish relationships.  The second thing to do is to foster trust through competence.  Trust is earned, not granted.

Even when you join a chapter that has pre-established relationships, you are not cut off from future business.  Let’s consider one example.

You are a chiropractor and join a referral group only to find out that the fitness instructor has a referral relationship in place with another practitioner.  If you demand that the prior relationship end you gain the reputation of an assassin and damage credibility and trust.

Instead, turn to abundance and look for opportunities to collaborate.  If you step back a moment you can appreciate that the fitness instructor already likes chiropractic work—not a given in every mind.  Find out what the fitness instructor likes best about the other doctor—areas of specialty, and so on.

Seek an introduction with the other professional.  You may find they are strong in areas you are not or work well in areas you dislike.  Perhaps they excel in accident cases and you do not.  Once you start flooding them with these patients reciprocity is bound to take hold.

Even if you line up well on paper you can still work together.  You can do joint screenings at neutral sites where decisions are based on personal rapport or location convenience.

The bottom line is to seek new opportunities and expansion of possibilities.  Abundance is where you look for it.

© 2013 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

Written by bniguy

January 27, 2013 at 8:48 am

Who Loves Ya, Baby?

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“In sales, a referral is the key to the door of resistance.” ~~Bo Bennett

This post may be a little controversial so let’s just wade right in.  Most people make the mistake of believing that customers are their best source of referrals.  I heard your mental door slam.  You don’t believe it when I say customers are NOT the best source and appreciate the sentiment.  Customers can and do provide referrals and can be exceptional sources.  However, over the long (and often short) run, strategic alliances run circles around them.

With a well-developed referral network you can realize more good referrals from one or two professionals than you could ever see from all of your clients combined.

There are a number of reasons for this and I will simply address two concepts.  The first is to consider the strengths of other professionals.  The second is to consider the dynamics of customer interaction.

Let’s level the playing field first by making the assumption that you demonstrate integrity, are experienced (with a decent customer base to draw from,) and are competent.  These can be speed bumps in any process, so let’s assume you are a professional.

Let’s also assume that as a professional you have established some business relationships along the way.

This puts us at the starting line to draw comparisons.

As you add clients they often need services you do not provide.  These can be nicely complemented by other professionals.  Examples include power-washer and painter, event planner and caterer, mortgage provider and closing attorney, to name a few.  If you are in the second seat of being referred (or consulted) by the lead company (or hub firm) then you can appreciate the situation and may crack that mental door back open a little.  The shortest path to success for the second seat professional is to drive business to the hub firm whenever possible.  Drive business to the Realtor and many downstream professionals come along for the ride.

In addition everyone along the line is a better sales representative than your clients.  When properly trained and motivated they can see the opportunities and introduce those referrals in a steady stream of activity.  In some cases they even have a vested interest in your success.

Now let’s consider the dynamic of customers, as well.  If you are spending part of your time with them to generate referrals you are diverting attention from their needs to your own.  Customers will not trust this dynamic long or often.

It is certainly possible to build asking for referrals into the process and there are key points where this is seamless and natural.  However, pressing too hard can terminate the entire relationship, so tread lightly.

Finally, there is also an important significant benefit in building productive relationships with other professionals—namely feedback.  A professional can tell you when your price is too high, your message too vague, or your offer too weak.  Customers just vanish quietly into the night and it takes a lot longer to correct a faulty course.

Let me close with one of my favorite quotes.  “Teamwork is so important that it is virtually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it.” ~~Brian Tracy

Make your team work!

© 2013 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

Written by bniguy

January 20, 2013 at 9:11 am

Take it to the Bank

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Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.” ~~John Quincy Adams

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a pipeline you have built where qualified prospects flow to you in predictable ways.  You can turn the valve open or closed whenever you like in order to vary the timing, frequency, and volume to meet both your current capacity and need.

This is exactly what you have in place with your effective word-of-mouth network and it all starts with relationships.

I’ll give you two analogies to consider.  The first is fishing.  Ineffective word-of-mouth marketing is like fishing with dynamite.  You set the charge and then react to the results.  Maybe nothing comes up—you were in the wrong place or it is the wrong time.  Maybe lots of fish bubble up and you are beyond your limit so opportunities go drifting by un-served.  Further, are these the best fish or just the current ones?

If instead you knew which fish were where, why, and when you could selectively work with the ones you want.

Here is where the fishing analogy frays a little so let’s consider forestry and selecting the right materials for construction.  For some projects you need pine, for others oak, and for others yew trees are exactly the type you need.  If your friend has a forest and you walk through together identifying the trees that are the right type and size you can harvest them later as needed.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

This process is not for everyone you know.  It is developed by establishing and nurturing productive relationships with selective strategic partners.  However, they will never show you the “good wood” until they know, like, and trust you.  So sharpen the saw by getting to know your business partners better and demonstrate your ability to take good care of every introduction you are granted.

© 2013 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

Written by bniguy

January 13, 2013 at 6:11 am

High Touch High Tech

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Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” ~~Chief Seattle

Human history is largely populated with small, interconnected communities.  Small tribes migrated together and certain members of the group specialized in different needed skills.  As a species, we also push against every border, ever expanding our reach…now to the moon and back.

In 2013 we enjoy the best of both worlds.  It is not uncommon to live in a place where we do not really “know” our immediate neighbors and yet be fully engaged with people sharing similar interests across time zones.

This tapestry of life, this network, sustains our lives, our businesses, and our communities.

In your city, against a faceless backdrop of a hundred thousand people your strongly connected networking group provides common interest and shared presence.  You can leverage the influence of your fellow members to understand your market’s needs, illuminate your unique capabilities, and help each other achieve and deliver success.

Networking, also known as word of mouth marketing, marries the concepts of high touch and high tech in an elegant manner so that the image of all boats rising together becomes eminently compelling in this arena.

© 2013 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

Written by bniguy

January 6, 2013 at 5:03 am