If there is one thing that any salesperson can do to improve their results … it is to meet more people.
That is the simple way to state it … now let me clarify.
1. The people must be relevant to the sales person’s business success … so having coffee with your friends is unlikely to help (unless of course those friends are in your business). The most obvious “relevant” people are the people that buy your kind of product or service, however there are a host of other people that you should meet and here are some examples …
i. C-level executives who can talk to the company strategy when you might not be able to get in to see the CEO;
ii. Assistants who can give you insight into schedules, hot buttons, business issues etc of the person you ultimately want to meet;
iii. Colleagues of the “buyer” who are a mine of information about relevant business issues and might even point at other areas of the business that could use your product/service;
iv. Competitors are a source of industry information and while you need to be careful about how much detail you give out, it is good to develop industry relationships.
v. If your type of traditional buyer is at the “manager” level then anyone who can give you “account information” that helps you identify opportunities is worth meeting.
vi. If you are in the “people” business then the consultants and employees that you have “on site” are an obvious source of information that is often overlooked.
2. The meetings must be meaningful. A meaningful meeting does not have to be formal, does not have to be long … it just has to bring value to your sales efforts.
Some thoughts on meaningful meetings …
i. If you only meet with people to ask them for business, then you are missing the point.
ii. There are a million reasons to meet with people … to understand their business; to hear about their plans; to gather market intelligence; to build a relationship (with a relevant contact); to be introduced to other people; to understand where opportunities may exist; to tell them about you and your company; to help them with their problems (whether it means business for you or not) … etc. etc.
iii. Salespeople avoid meeting new people … yet it is one of the greatest ways to understand what is going on in your accounts.
iv. Many people will avoid meeting with salespeople (and for very good reasons) if they can at all help it. They avoid you because they don’t want to be sold; they are busy people and don’t want you to waste their time; they are bombarded with requests to meet and can’t meet everyone; they don’t want to feel pressured; they don’t see any value; etc etc.
v. You have heard it before … but you don’t learn much if you do all the talking! The client should talk MORE than you!
vi. It is your job to get meetings … and you do that by building credibility and bringing value. Every client has a fistful of business cards from people they met once. Don’t be that kind of “sales person”. I wrote a blog entry called Valid Business Reasons to Spend time With a Client… take a minute to read it!
I wrote a similar blog entry about the Importance of Client Meetings that contains some more thoughts on this subject.
If you are in sales and want to improve your results in 2012 then one way to do that is to have more sales opportunities, and you can do that by meeting more people. Make a New Years Resolution … I will meet x new people each month! Write it on a card and keep it in front of you on your desk … and find a way to meet and exceed that target and see what it can do for your results!