Selling products to people when you first meet them is like going up to an attractive person in a nightclub and asking them to marry you. It is just far too great a commitment.
Especially in B2B environments there needs to be trust. When businesses purchase, those decisions have an impact on their own success. They need to now that they are making the right choice. They need to know, like and trust the people they are buying from. You're unlikely to make many sales on the first meeting.
Just taking a look at our own customer base, there is a strong correlation between our clients and how we met them. Some contacts go back 30 years. We've met them through colleagues in previous careers, relationships and voluntary work. In almost every case we've known these people intimately enough for them to trust us to do business with.
Know>Like>Trust. It's a formula that works and builds up over time.
In digital marketing we talk about the digital sales funnel: Acquire, Convert, Retain. In order to get 1 customer you might need to get to know 100 individuals, of which 10 like you enough to have a further conversation of which 1 might become a long term relationship.
Now it is simply not scalable to get to know 100 people individually in order to get 1 sale. And we don't really want to wait 30 years until an old school chum gets in touch. So how do we go about it?
Getting to Know You - Lucky breaks
The psychologist Richard Wiseman, who just so happens to work at my university, and the author of the book The Luck Factor, observed that lucky people have a strong "network of luck". They get lucky more often simply because they meet more people, and most often they are outgoing and extrovert. Wiseman goes on to point out that lucky people also tend to trust other people and so they build closer relationships. They are easy to get to know and people like them.
Getting to Know More of You..........
Big brands get to know heir customers through large advertising budgets, big social media campaigns, customer service units, high street branches. As a smaller business that just isn't possible. So what do smaller businesses have in their armoury?
When I ask students where they are going to find information the most frequent reply is "The Internet". To which I reply: "The web is rather a large place. Where exactly?"
Digital marketing is all very well, but the internet is a very, very, large place. Finding you may well be like finding a goldfish in the ocean So you need to stand out and you need to be easy to find. Think of designing your website as being the same as an 18 year old looking for their dream date at a prom. OK - so you have to look pretty - or the cute guys are going to go for the other girls, but first you have to be there, get noticed and and be interesting enough to hang around.
In business terms this means:
- Looks are important. Yes get a good graphic designer - looks and first impressions are important. But it doesn't stop there. Oh no. Competition for this date is strong. You must do more.
- Be easy to find. This isn't just about keyword density, it's about a whole host of other things like page download time and whether or not your site is responsive. Google isn't going to like you if you aren't reliable and responsive.
- Be on time. If your site doesn't load on time, your customers will look elsewhere. I just gave up on a downloadable PDF on self branding after a 30 minute wait.
- Be interesting. Have great content that people just love to read. Make it about them and not about you. The best conversationalists are those that are interested in the people they are talking with.
- Have a personality. People buy from people. Get personal. Let people know you are human. Don't pretend to be a big brand if you are sitting in your home office in your bedroom. Don't be afraid to let people know who you really are. One of my best contacts came from blogging a picture of my handbag before setting off for a meeting!! I like to think people can get to know me (and my bag).
- Turn up in the same place often. One of my LinkedIn contacts blogs so often, that I am no longer sure if I have met her in person or not. I feel so strongly that I know her because her face appears every day on my home page.
- Be well connected. Appear on other people's sites not just your own. Your contacts may well have more friends than you - get to know them to increase your network of luck.
- Invite people back to your home. Once you've met people on someone else's site, get them back to your home as quickly as possible! Get the links in there and entice them to follow you back to your place.
- Get their contact details. You want to make sure you can follow up on that first date don't you?
- Don't be scared of following up. That dream appointment may well be waiting to hear from you.
- Be patient. Getting to know people takes time. One of our key competitors said it took 18 months of blogging 3 times a day to get their first sale with this activity. To expand your network of luck you need to be in it for the long term.
Wishing you lots of luck with expanding your network of influence. I hope we get to know each other better soon. Or if you already know me and we haven't met in a while - when shall we do lunch?!