Have you ever gone to purchase a piece of apparel - new slacks (guys) or perhaps a new jacket (ladies) and after purchasing, you found that you already had something very similar tucked away in your closet? Once I organize my wardrobe or clean out a closet I tend to find similar items to what I purchased, and I know I am not alone on this.
I usually think, "I need a wardrobe consultant to help me stay organized."
The same is true with your highly valued sales contacts. You've made great efforts to connect with some of them - either at trade shows or online, and then work happens - and you tuck them away. You don't follow up with them and they don't follow up with you. Just think of all the great deals you might have if only people kept in contact. It's likely you could grow your business by 10-40% just by being better at following up with high value contacts and setting next actions.
Let's take a minute to think about how all of your business contacts are sitting in various sorts of containers - here are a few:
The stack of business cards on your desk
The 500+ contacts you were once so proud to have accumulated in LinkedIn
Your Google+ business contacts
Your mailing list and CRM system (for some companies it is one in the same)
Oh, I could go on and on, but for now will simply encourage you to jot down where all of your prized and valued relationships are kept. Do you respect and value these contacts?
Why are they tucked away and you never (or rarely) reach out to them?
It's a new day if you really want to create gold with the contacts you already have. My point today is to stop looking for more until you've followed up on who you already have a relationship with.
I know that sounds counter intuitive for me since I am always encouraging clients to work on "net new" business. But net new business can be gained from those who already know and trust you. Heck, they may even like you! (if they don't, I would work with some new contacts.) As a company that has gained our last 3 new clients from LinkedIn and Twitter, we encourage you to exchange conversation with the people who know you and are out looking for what it is that you do. For the people who know you but are not currently looking, your nurturing of the relationship will keep "top of mind" awareness for when they DO need something you provide.
Here are 3 tips to help you get started. [There is a complete webinar on this later today as part of Sales Summer School.]
1. If you do collect business cards you may have a stack of them on your desk, a shoebox, or a file drawer. Make an post-work hours event to get them sorted out and dealt with. Do this on a regular basis - sort, if important get entered into CRM and set a next action. If not important, toss.
2. Make a practice to reach out to your LinkedIn connections - if you have connected the way Linkedin created their system, you will be connecting to people you know and trust. 5 Contacts to reach out to each week x 50 weeks = 250 connections over the course of a year. (I gave you 2 weeks off for holidays) Create a message that shows you are thinking of them, customize as much as you can.
3. Build your e-mail list with as many of these folks as possible. When reaching out to your LinkedIn contacts, for example, have a link for your company newsletter so that ultimately everyone will be there. An e-newsletter, when well done, is extremely valuable, and when segmented is an amazing asset for your company.
What tips do YOU have for following up with existing contacts?
Lori Richardson speaks, writes, and trains on sales strategies for B2B mid-market technology front-line sales teams. Why not sign up for our twice-monthly newsletter, “Sales Ideas In A Minute” or the award-winning blog rss feed?