Qualifying the 20% continued
Your product, your contact’s needs, and whether you and your contact sell to the same or complementary markets contribute significantly to whether the contact is a direct sales target, a referrer or not a qualified contact. When you first meet, however, you do not know these facts about your new contact. What you learn upon initial contact will depend on your opening lines and how you act.
Most likely, you will spend less than 7 minutes with each new contact you meet at a networking event. Don’t try to sell your product. That is the worst thing you can do when you first meet? Don’t be boastful either. Either is much worse than spilling your drink or being a bore.
Ask questions and listen. Shine the spotlight on your new contact and make them feel important. If you do, they will like you and they will be receptive to your follow up. Don’t ask “What is your occupation.” Ask one of the following:
- What type of projects do you work on in your company?
- What did you do today at work that made you feel good?
- What types of activities do you do when you are not working?
Ask about your contact’s interests outside of work and watch as their eyes light up. It is much more fun to talk about interests and hobbies than it is to talk about work. Also, ask your questions using “What” as the first word and you will get better answers.
Lead generation is similar to social dating. You need to get “Date #1” before “Date #2.” When you get date #2, you have a chance of forming a relationship. If you form 100 new relationships from 1,200 business cards you collected, you will be on your way to filling your sales pipeline.
Converting Contacts into Sales: The Science of Lead Generation continued
If you meet 20 contacts at a general networking event, about 5 have sales or referral potential. You do not yet know which contacts have value and you must follow up to find out. Immediately after the event, write down a key word about each contact on the back of their business card. Make the keyword spark follow up action. Sort the cards by your initial sense of their potential yield. Take the top 5 and conduct web research on each business contact. Take the next 5 and conduct your research. Now, prioritize the top ten. Here are three questions to ask when prioritizing your contacts: • What are this contact’s needs for what I sell? • Does this contact sell into the same markets that I sell to? • What personal interests do we have in common? You have now started the process of converting contacts into leads and referral sources. You still need to research the second group of 10 contacts to see if any crack your top 10. If so, add them to the group and start your follow up actions. Effective business developer follow up with 250 new contacts to find 50 new contacts that will produce new sales or referrals over the next two years.