My first sales job felt tough for the first 18 months. Each month, I had to find another $50,000 of business selling copiers to meet my budget, mostly through cold calling, and had not yet discovered the power of networking.
Then, all of a sudden, ONE thing happened and everything changed.
Use Networking To Help Increase Your Sales Performance
That one thing was a rugby game; the All Blacks v. Australia at Athletic Park in Wellington. I was allowed to invite six guests to a boot party. We had hired a car boot in the parking section. The ‘boot’ is what we, Down Under, call the trunk. Inside the trunk were food and drink for the guests.
Since I did not have any large clients yet, I decided to invite a few who had the potential to be big clients. I did not expect much because, after all, they already had an existing supplier.
Still … everything was free to me so it was a good opportunity to network.
The game came and went and although the weather fluctuated, one thing remained steady… the alcohol consumption. Yes, the happy juice flowed from start to finish.
At the end of the game, I was tired and slightly inebriated – ready to go home and sleep.
Engage in an Experience Together
Someone asked, ‘Where are we off to now?'
Someone else suggested my place. This was the last thing I wanted. Someone else seconded that mine was the best location and the crowd unanimously agreed. My place it was.
Six hours later, all these respectable business people were crawling on the floor, singing and dancing and generally embarrassing themselves (or they would have been embarrassed had anyone been sober).
I have to say, I am generally only a social drinker. I have never had a drink alone and probably never will, but business is business and on this day I was prepared to take one for the team.
Little did I know how profitable this social event was going to be for me. From that day on, 40% of my ‘record sales’ came from two clients who attended the ‘after-match’ function.
‘So, you mean that was networking?' Yes … yes, it was.
From that day on, I became the #1 sales person in my company nationwide, largely due to two new and loyal clients who were big repeat buyers.
Take it to the Personal
Okay, let me bring this puppy home.
Here is what I am NOT saying …
1) Get your potential clients drunk
2) Crawl around on the floor and sing songs with said clients
3) Drink yourself until you feel confident
I repeat, I am NOT saying you must do any of that, but I am also not saying NOT to do it, either. Those details just make my particular story a little more interesting.
What I am saying is that, in many cases, it can be in your best interest to move the relationship towards the personal. Although that type of networking isn't something I would have intentionally tried, it worked, especially since I didn't even realize I was networking in the first place.
There is a professional relationship and then there is a personal relationship, and then there is one in-between.
People buy from people who they trust and like. So what is the best way to become liked and trusted by your potential next client?
How Do You Gain Rapport and Trust?
You build rapport by forming an emotional bond with someone. I’ve talked about rapport in our AM Labs newsletter, but it is worth repeating. Funny things like familiarity, trust and liking happen to people ‘in rapport.’
You cannot beat the benefits of rapport, and the fastest way to gain rapport is face-to-face, sharing the same emotional experience (or networking). The best bonds are formed when people face highly emotional experiences together, like being on a sports team or in some other group together.
Find an emotional experience you can share with a potential client.
Here is one more quick story.
I had a client (not an architect), who tried to gain rapport by doing free work for his accounting clients. He was shocked by how ungrateful clients were when he would offer to complete a small service for free.
I mentioned the concept of changing to something more personal and the penny dropped.
‘Now I get it,' he cried. ‘We’ve been giving away hundreds of dollars and getting no love. Then, we invite them for drinks on a Friday night, buy them two beers and they are calling us Monday morning thanking us. Two beers equal $12, and even though it’s a much smaller investment, the beers won more brownie points because the gesture was personal.'
So don’t get mad … get personal.
Looking for more information on architect marketing? Start here by reading our article on The Diamond Strategy.