The People PersonMonday, 30 May 2011 16:23
Cold calling versus networking: Which path should you tread?
Competition is fierce. You need to be on your game, ready and nimble as a start-up. The best technology, the greatest processes all means nothing unless you’re willing to network and be known. A start-up requires a great communicator and a person that can tell the story. There is an audience willing to listen if you know how to find it.
I have always believed that the head of the business should be the strongest sales person, brand ambassador and the person so well connected to the outside world that the business should never need to make a cold call.
How do you spend the valuable time you have generating business interest and sales? I network and I learn and I listen. I meet people and listen to their stories and I listen to their business strategies. I also always make sure I share my story.
There is no longer six degrees of separation in business. It’s one or maybe two. The power of technology has ensured we are all only one click away from becoming friends with the most powerful people in business.
But is this networking? The answer to this is a resounding no. Connecting to a businessperson on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook doesn’t mean I have successfully networked.
Likewise, inviting someone to connect doesn’t mean I am networked. This is one form of enabling and cannot guarantee another thing; other than you now share information on a directory.
One of my peers told me he receives at least five to 10 cold calls per day from recruiters who want to flick him CVs or want to meet about an opportunity.
He doesn’t mind the approach, but what he finds infuriating is the time he wastes because the caller has simply looked him up on LinkedIn and recited his bio back to him on the phone.
The comical part then is that once they have done this, the conversation stops dead. No other research done. End of call. Goodbye.
Very embarrassing for the brand of the recruiter and a surefire way he will never engage them in the future.
Job Capital doesn’t make cold calls. Ever. I do not like being cold called and I will never cold call. I was forced to do this in a previous company as an employee.
It actually made me feel sick because I didn’t even know the person I was supposed to be selling to. The results were abysmal, but I had to keep doing it. I did however make my call KPIs.
My team does not make cold calls. Yet we have grown sales by 152% this year to date. Firstly, the many calls I receive are filtered through my gatekeeper.
I like people. But we are in business, so I want to engage with those that bring value to the business, my team or my time and vice versa (where I can add value to theirs).
Secondly, the calls I used to receive were empty sales pitches. Scripted, lifeless and clearly done out of necessity to make KPIs and often with little or no research done on me, the business or really with much understanding or comprehension of Job Capital or my other businesses. Why do companies set their sales people up to fail like this?
Networking for me is the art of face-to-face communication. Each week I ensure I make new connections face-to-face.
Last week I had six face-to-face meetings with people I had met at functions the previous week. I met another four people at events and functions I would like to meet with next week. It’s not about the number, it’s about the quality and it’s about consistency. All were people I respect and have very good reputations.
All have successful careers and businesses and all were willing to hear my story. They are people that are very well networked and, like me, believe the art of communication is paramount to growing business.
These people all know people that make decisions, have influence and will refer my business services to those that may need it now or in the future.
Likewise I would absolutely refer their services and businesses to my peers and my network. In, fact it would be a pleasure to do so.
I asked around my office today. One of my managers told me 95% of May’s billings are from people that have referred our services to their peers. People he has never met but know him through his networks. Brilliant!
My golden rules of networking are:
Networking is part of my business that I am absolutely passionate about. And let’s face it, you are good at the things you love doing in your business!
Jo Burston is the founder of Job Capital, a company that manages the financial affairs of contractors. The business was named the Officeworks Fastest Growing Start-up at the 2011 StartupSmart Awards. http://www.jobcapital.com.au/
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