by Carson Heady – May 2014
How to sell: Put the ball in play
Fundamental to any activity or sport is to put the ball in play. This necessitates action on the part of the participant(s) and begins with how and when we make contact.
On the field, it is about formulating strategy, addressing the ball, following through and studying results to adjust for future shots. Business and sales are no different; prospecting and approaching connections to build relationships must be handled with the same finesse.
As with all facets of sales, the quality of each leg of the process determines quantities of successes. Fashioning the optimum game plan for narrowing our search for prospects, garnering attention in the proper way, reaching out with maximum effectiveness and showing why you or your product is supremely relevant inches you closer to your goal line. Like charging down the field, each possession’s objective is to manage plays effectively enough to get as close to that end zone as possible. We will not reach it every time, but the more masterfully we operate each play and possession, the better our chances.
Three things you must do to win
[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”350px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]“Networking is what landed my most prominent directing roles. As a filmmaker, networking is of utmost importance and it is truly all about who you know when it comes to securing interviews. Diversifying the groups I was networking with rather than just one core group made all the difference; taking initiative, starting conversations – you never know where they will lead and deals are made over conversation, coffee and meals.” Bart Elfrink, Director & Cinematographer[/dropshadowbox]From looking to land a job to attempting to market a product or service, it is vital to:
- make authentic connections,
- showcase unique attributes, and
- improve their lives.
Ultimately, you want to prove that your target audience would be better off with what you have than what they have now or have to choose from.
Examine your playing field:
- What experience or attributes are being sought in the arena you wish to conquer?
- What do you or does your product offer that ensures you are uniquely qualified to fill a gap?
These are the strengths you highlight as you grab attention and carry on throughout the selling process. Learning your audience’s needs through analysis and questions is step one; showcasing how you fill the gap best is the rest. Realize that you and your product are up against considerable odds; this does not rule out victory, but means you must work smart and understand this contact sport.
How to connect
[dropshadowbox align=”right” effect=”lifted-both” width=”350px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]“If you don’t put yourself out there, you will never know your fullest potential. Network and connect with everyone (and I do mean everyone) you know as will often be surprised to find what opportunities lie within the those you are closest too as well as farthest away. Connect and engage, talk and share, give and get – it is how trusting and long-term business relationships and strategic partnerships grow.” Laura Wiley, Principal/CMO of Marketing Lift[/dropshadowbox]Connecting today has a different feel with the prominence of social media and ability to quickly pinpoint your target decision maker; with a simple search we can locate VP’s and CEO’s and attempt to make contact. That said, anyone can make contact, so you must ensure your contact counts. Utilization of sites like LinkedIn grant you access to all the movers and shakers across every industry:
- Build your network strategically by casting a wide enough net of individuals who could serve as decision makers or point you in the right direction.
- Aim high, specifically in small-to-mid-sized businesses where a CEO will be more apt to accept your overtures.
- Do it with distinctive, classy flair. Don’t use the generic LinkedIn request.
- Never pin all your hopes on just one person for a job or sales decision. Formulate multiple plays across all pertinent companies and industries so you are prepared for whatever obstacles you encounter.
How to approach
Approach requires just as much thought. Using your own conversational style, the approach might go something like this: “Mr./Mrs. X – It is my hope this note finds you well. With your expertise in _____ and our mutual interests, I believe you would be an excellent person with whom to share ideas and learn from. I would be honored to be part of your network.”
Whether by LinkedIn or email, supplanting the generic, average introduction will get your note noticed where others land in the penalty box of the virtual trash can. From there, timely follow up within a matter of days thanking them for the connection and requesting advice on the industry to gain access to them will have far more success than pushing a product or asking for a job up front.
Casting a wide net also means:
- researching local networking events,
- utilizing your existing network to meet new prospects (i.e, referrals), and
- leaving no stone unturned as you put your best quality foot forward in meeting and greeting new contacts with whom to form mutually beneficial relationships.
Like any part of the game, prospecting and connecting determine how far the ball carries, and are integral in your quest to circle the bases.
Cover photo courtesy of Tate Nations.