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WIIFM: What’s in it for me?

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“Data is not information, information is not knowledge, knowledge is not understanding, understanding is not wisdom.” ~~Clifford Stoll

This week we consider some fundamental communications skill in sales. That is, understanding and stating the difference between features and benefits. Features are simply facts. They neither engage nor inspire. They do not impel action or transfer an emotional connection. Features are a list of what that never considers why or, as the title notes, “What is in it for me?” Your prospect wonders, “Why should I care?”

Dr. Ivan Misner includes a good example of this in the 29% Solution, by listing the features of a car.

“V-6 engine, dual exhaust, front-wheel drive, sunroof…heated seats, heated glass.”

As you can see, this is a list of features you may or may not entirely understand or appreciate.

What are some of the benefits of these features?

  • The V-6 engine helps you pull out into traffic quickly. It may impress your friends.
  • Dual exhaust improves fuel efficiency, provides more power when starting out, and adds a “throaty” sound to the engine (which may also impress your friends.)
  • Front-wheel drive provides more legroom, since the driveshaft tunnel is not needed.
  • The sunroof provides the open road feel of a convertible while retaining the added structural security of a hard-body sedan.
  • Heated seats provide a warmer environment on chilly mornings and better comfort on long road trips.
  • Heated glass allows the convenience of clearing the windows in winter without manually scraping them clean.

These benefits put the prospect “in the driver’s seat.” Some of those benefits appealed to you while others did not. The professional is aware of the benefits and can align them to the prospect. If the person you are talking to is most interested in fuel efficiency then you can recommend a good automotive choice and highlight the features that support fuel efficiency. In fact, the same vehicle may appeal to two very different buyers as long as the emphasis is on the areas of interest to them.

How does this apply to networking? Since we are meeting other business owners and sales representatives many networkers do not consider the benefits and only list features. Feature lists are certainly more precise and, when shared with a colleague, can be very effective. Network administrators, for instance, can share industrial terms with each other and successfully impress with their technical grasp and currency of knowledge. However, all that jargon leaves the rest of us out. In fact, it disenfranchises us from any ability to refer them or connect them to someone they could help since we are so clueless in that arena.

If instead they spoke in terms of response speed, data security, recovery time, and reliability we could recommend them to others with confidence.

My litmus test is to imagine sharing what I do, what my product or service does, and how this can help you by imagining I am explaining it to a twelve year old. I don’t want to wear out your attention span or go over your head.

Your action this week is to highlight the benefits you provide. Consider some of your favorite customers and remember what problems you solved for them. A simple (and highly effective) shortcut is to ask them. You have been meaning to call and say hello anyway. Here’s a good excuse.

Find out the main reason they chose to spend money with you? They sought a benefit, not a feature.

The second action is to list all the features of your product or service and identify as many benefits as possible for each one. I highly recommend that you complete this portion before proceeding to next week’s blog entry.

 

© 2017 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

July 23, 2017 at 8:49 am

The host with the most

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“The more credit you give away, the more will come back to you. The more you help others, the more they will want to help you.” ~~Brian Tracy

Last week we considered the benefits of sponsoring events. This week we look at the other side of that coin and consider hosting events.

I am not referring to simple get-togethers—although they are also important—but talking about events tied to a purpose or reason.

These fall into two large categories—singular events and regular events. Singular events happen once and are usually tied to a specific situation. These may be grand openings, award ceremonies, and so on. Although you may hold annual (or more frequent) award ceremonies this particular one is special and should be treated as such. There is usually a theme and purpose.

Regular events are usually more casual social networking designed around a recurring pattern. The theme is usually tied to food and drink or specific entertainment.

Consider a grand opening. This is a wonderful time to showcase a new location or new product line or some similar watershed event. Usually these are invitation only and align with the business. An example might be a new music shop. It is great to include musicians and this enhances the celebratory party-like atmosphere. Another example may be a clothing store which could showcase new fashions on the runway, too.

In these events, consider some of the benefits to the host. Start with the event itself and consider the purpose and how it aligns with your business goals. Who will be invited and how will that happen? Knowing that, who in my network would benefit from meeting these people? How can this event maximize those introductions? What kind of expenses can you anticipate? Who in my network is looking for a way to help me? What can I offer my sponsors?

Thoughtful preparation is the key to a successful event and some business people are very adept at making this event memorable and productive. Consider some of the people who would benefit from meeting the guests. They might be financial planners, estate planning attorneys, or bankers. A caterer may also benefit and welcome the chance to showcase their ability. A promotional items professional may engage a photographer in order to further their relationship. The possibilities are varied.

If you are hosting an event engage sponsors for signage, invitations, and so on. Commit to review the guest list with your sponsors and make personal introductions to the appropriate parties.

There is a lot of work involved in these singular events and attention to detail helps make them memorable.

One way to leverage the same effort is to host regular events. They can simply be based around a common interest—such as cheering for a team—or as simple as a midweek wine-tasting. Golf outings are an excellent venue. By carving out a regular recurring event you can build relationships and provide a forum for connecting people in a friendly way. In fact, this is an excellent way to deepen the roots of those significant relationships.

Your action this week is to consider some creative ways you can introduce your network to one another and celebrate an event by hosting a purposeful gathering.

 

© 2017 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

July 9, 2017 at 4:13 am

Posted in events, HowTo, planning

Team up

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“If you support the community, they will support you.” ~~Jerry Greenfield

Promotion is a key component in expanding a company’s or organization’s reach. Sponsorship of local events is an accessible method to consider.

Let’s look at the bigger model. If you look at any NASCAR vehicle (or driver’s uniform, for that matter,) you can see that every inch sports a sponsor’s logo. An attorney I know started his business by sponsoring a local race team. Certainly, his objectives were to have the car go around the track and never get a dent. The driver was more interested in winning the race anyway possible. The lawyer knew, though, that some of these people would get speeding tickets on the way home and wanted them to call him immediately.

In fact, the sports world exemplifies big business sponsorship to the point that Super Bowl ads have become more important in many circles than the game itself.

This applies well at the local level, too. There are a number of benefits to consider in sponsoring events:

  • Promotion of your brand. This is enhanced when you line up your business with the proper demographic.

  • An opportunity to showcase your products and services.

  • A chance to meet and greet potential prospects and strategic alliances.

  • An occasion to deepen an alliance partner relationship.

  • A way to make a difference in your community.

On the other hand you must evaluate each sponsorship situation carefully. There are more opportunities than you could possibly support and more are being created all the time. Not every one of them is a fit. Here are some questions to consider first:

  • What is the target market for this event?

  • Do I get direct access to this audience?

  • How does this align with my networking goals?

  • What kind of exposure do I get for my investment?

  • Does it make sense to be there?

  • Can I get this exposure without this type of investment?

  • How does this enhance my credibility with the person I am helping?

  • Are there any competitors as other sponsors?

  • Are there any other alliance partners as sponsors?

  • Why should I do it?

  • Why should I not do this?

 

Action for this week is to consider those in your network that are holding events—a conference, an open house, a fund-raiser—that can use your support. In order to strengthen your relationship offer as much help as your business can provide and realize it may not all be financial.

 

© 2017 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

July 2, 2017 at 6:55 am

Breaking (and Making) Bread Together

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“Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler.” ~~Albert Einstein

One of the most valuable times in every networker’s week is meal time. This is a wonderful part of every day when we can relax with someone over food and really get deeper into a relationship or strategy. If you stop and think about how many meals we enjoy every year, the opportunity to maximize this is incredible.

Let’s look at the numbers.

We eat three meals a day every day for 365 days each year. That is more than 1,000. Let’s back that down to weekdays only (5 days per week and go with 50 weeks for simplicity’s sake) leaving 750. I recommend cutting that into thirds where one third is for your family, one third for yourself and non-business friends, and one-third for purposeful food encounters. Let’s simplify the math once more and convert 250 to 20 per month. That is basically one meal per working day. These can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I personally prefer one dinner per week and four breakfasts and lunches. That is, four dinners and sixteen others mixed. Some months it is twelve breakfasts and four lunches. Some months it is the reverse.

What is a purposeful food encounter? It is a planned event with just a few select people. They typically include 2-4 people and fall into one of these patterns: one-to-one, one-to-two, or two-to-two.

One-to-one sessions are level one gatherings with one other person to set strategy and further existing relationships. I find it most powerful to select a single target market or single aspect of your business offer and focus on just that. Talk about the problems your target prospects experience, what phrases or comments would indicate their experience with these issues, what solutions you can provide, what common objections they might have, and how to move the introduction along. You should also discuss strategic alliances, good and bad referrals, and the typical cycle you encounter in this arena. In the beginning of the process, this may be the only type of session you do and twenty or even forty of these purposeful meetings carry strong results. As well as setting the stage for the next level up.

Level two meetings are when the actual introductions are done. These are usually three or four people together and put either the strategic alliance partners together or the problem holders and problem solvers. This is to establish a new relationship by bridging the gap between these two parties using an existing relationship to introduce a new one.

Think of this as a triangle. Let’s set the stage. We have Matt Plastic who represents a credit card company that works very well with the restaurant industry. As you may recall we considered that in Week Three Find the Perfect Customer. Matt has a very good friend named Mary Shields, who is a Commercial Insurance Agent. Mary’s friend, Wolf Davis, runs a restaurant and is a client. Matt and Mary got together in an earlier meal meeting and Matt talked about how he helped restaurant owners. Mary looked through her client list and arranged a meeting with Wolf.

As you can see, this can become a very productive meal meeting. The parties that already know each other (Matt-Mary and Mary-Wolf) strengthen their relationships regardless of whether or not Matt-Wolf clicks or not.

Your action item this week is to start having these powerful meal sessions.

  • Look over your schedule and carve out twenty slots
  • Create a short list of potential partners
  • Rank by most valuable
  • Start inviting, start meeting

 

© 2017 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

June 4, 2017 at 4:57 am

Make it so

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“The civil rights movement would experience many important victories, but Rosa Parks will always be remembered as its catalyst.” ~~Jim Costa

You have probably heard the expression about swimming out to your ship rather than simply waiting for it to arrive. This action-taking is catalytic.

How do you apply this concept in business? You can use catalyst events to foster introductions and establish relationships. These are especially useful for the more difficult introductions.

We have a National Hockey League team in town and they play more than three dozen home games. There are two Real Estate professionals that are fans and hold a few season tickets. They don’t sit together but are in the same general section. If one has a guest the other should meet they simply arrange to buy beer from the same kiosk at the end of the first period. What could be simpler?

You can do this with any activity you enjoy from golf to opera. I have a friend who teaches poker to small groups and this is a great way for the Mortgage Broker to meet more Realtors. It is also a good way for Realtors to meet more builders or for builders to meet more investors.

Bring people to something they would like to do and put them together with others they would like to meet. This is not a selling event or a training event or anything other than a social event. However, in this setting relationships have the opportunity to be established. That may or may not happen. If it doesn’t at least you enjoyed a good time and were able to thank someone important to you.

I have a Realtor friend that invites people over for frittatas every Easter Sunday. Over the past twenty-three years these have become signature events and many people look forward to this every spring.

This week’s action is to start the process in your life. Think of an event you enjoy, invite a few others, and start adding this to your occasional activities.

 

© 2017 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

May 28, 2017 at 5:14 am

The Fortune is in the Follow-Up

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“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.” ~~ Mark Twain

We have all heard the title. How many have considered the impact and developed systems to assure compliance with this simple—yet key—concept?

If you recall Week Seven’s Take Inventory we found that the number one trait of successful networkers is to follow up. In some cases this alone separates you from the competition. Have you ever called trades people and never gotten return calls? When someone finally gets back to you they have a tremendous edge over the others. In fact, you would never willingly refer the others in order to protect your own credibility.

Some of your referral partners will test you in this area—and rightly so. Simply doing what you say you will carries tremendous benefit while failure to do the same carries an equal (or even heavier) damage-factor.

Regular follow-up after the initial event is also a differentiator. Everyone’s situation is unique (so tailor this to yours) but let’s consider a ninety-day follow-up plan over the first year of a relationship. If you work with someone this week—mid-May—then look for follow-up moments in early August, November, February, and May next year. If you consider this, the process is not difficult. All you need is a method you will actually use. Accordion files, hanging files, envelopes, electronic reminders…there are many ways to do this. The key, of course, is to actually pick one and follow it.

© 2017 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

May 14, 2017 at 9:53 am

Posted in HowTo, planning

The Man in the Mirror

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“When you want to win a game, you have to teach. When you lose a game, you have to learn.” ~~ Tom Landry

We have been together for sixteen weeks and are on the cusp of making excellence a habit. Most behaviorists consider seventeen weeks the yardstick for establishing a new habit. I imagine there are some of the past sixteen week exercises that have provided paradigm shifts and excited you. I am also sure that some of those same areas have not had any action applied.

This is human nature and stems from a few main reasons. Generally, strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the very same coin. The paradigm shifts were most significant to you because they are so far from what you already know and do. That very distance makes taking action so challenging. Set that against a backdrop of competing deadlines, uncertainty of where and how to start, and add fear of failure and success and it is no surprise that those actions we most want to take slip by.

My commitment to you is to lay out fifty two weekly strategies you can use. They each build on the other. Maybe not week-after-week since that only grows in one direction. They are designed to grow you from the inside out and expand all areas.

This is a good moment in the process for self-reflection and assessment. Sadly, some of the regular readers have already given up. Others take the perspective of being entertained by the material—even as they want more. Many are not adding any additional skills although they may apply some pieces here and there.

A few are keeping pace and are actively developing along. I read your emails and applaud you for that.

For the vast majority there is a missing ingredient to introduce this week and I ask you to consider that, as well.

Employees have bosses. They make sure otherwise unwilling people do what needs to be done. Students have teachers. Athletes have coaches. Many us are entrepreneurs and only have ourselves. I am asking you to find a workout partner.

Ideally, you should communicate briefly with this person at the end of every day. This is the most productive time. It can be as little as a five-minute conversation. Share your successes and listen to theirs. Share your frustrations, challenges, concerns, dreams, etc. Ideally this person should be someone you respect. At the very least you should communicate with this person weekly covering the same topics.

Why accept mediocrity when excellence is an option?

If you belong to a formal networking group the foundation for this relationship already exists. You may or may not be taking advantage of that aspect. Here are some questions to ask to identify the accountability partner for you:

  1. Who do you respect as a business colleague?
  2. Who would be willing to push you and not be afraid to challenge you?
  3. Who would you not want to disappoint?
  4. Who is also interested in networking their business so that you can be accountability partners for one another?
  5. Who knows your tendency to procrastinate?
  6. Who can you rely on to follow-through on their commitment to you?
  7. Who has the time and willingness to help you?

 Once you have identified someone here is a radical idea I am going to propose. Stop reading this blog for the weeks going forward. Find that partner and go back to the beginning. Work together entry by entry. If you catch up with me—great! I’ll still be here. If you are lagging behind—great! Move at a pace that works for you both. Use this blog as a guideline for success. You will likely find that some areas you can both breeze through while others may take two, three, or four weeks. I set the arbitrary pace of a weekly entry to keep you engaged. Now it is up to you to put that in gear at a pace you will actually use. I won’t mind if you start over. Get the most from the material by establishing success habits and the surest way to do that is with an accountability partner.

 © 2017 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

April 23, 2017 at 4:23 am