With her friendly, professional approach enhanced by a bit of humor, Greta Schulz, President and CEO of Schulz Training shared her expertise by giving us practical advice on how to grow our businesses through building relationships. From her standpoint, growing your business should be your top priority and it is now a very popular topic. In addition to your PR work, you need to get out and network. However, we want to do it differently, putting relationships first in everything we do.
Specific tips from Greta on how you can build business when faced with some of the top sales challenges:
  1. Getting “I’ll think it over” too often. Many people think calling and calling is follow up, but it’s “stalking.” Proposal shouldn’t be done until we know what needs to be done and what the budget is. If you put too much info in a proposal, that’s free consulting. If you sell properly, it doesn’t feel like selling. Interactive and consultative.
  2. No time management system – you have too many things on your list and never get anything done. There is no such thing as time management – only priority management. We get the things done that we like. Also deadlines – we’ll figure out how to get it done. Everything else falls by the way side unless we set priorities. Figure out the things that MUST be done. It is too easy when at desk to check on email. Push the button to make email go black. Same with phone – even cell phone. Your business is first. Figure out what needs to be done and do it.
  3. Not asking enough questions. Asking questions is really important – people become much more interested in listening to you when you ask them about themselves. If you talk too much you become Charlie Brown’s teacher: “Waaa….waaa…waaaa.” If you can engage someone, and then fit it what your advantages are to him or her, it makes much more sense.
  4. Not enough referrals from existing members. Two reasons: we don’t ask, and we don’t ask properly. If we get brave enough, you might ask but it usually goes right over their heads. We have to paint a picture so when they hear it or see it, you will be top of mind. We have to get business through referrals.
Next, Greta introduced her STRAIGHT A’s for Success:
  • Attitude: We have to believe that what we have makes sense. Have to stop believing that the economy is preventing business. Believe in yourself and your organization.
  • Activities: To build our business or our clients’ businesses, we have to be networking, talking to reporters, and doing things that we need to do to grow our business. Growing our business is our top priority – even over our clients.
  • Approach: What are we doing, what are we asking, what are we telling. How are we engaging people to achieve success?

Greta’s tips on NETWORKING
Most people don’t do it very well because we’ve never been taught. Walking into a sea of faces at an event can be awkward. You look around for someone you know or head for the three B’s: bar, bathroom or buffet. However, you don’t get business that way – there are better ways to network.

Follow the Plan: 
Identify your strategic alliances – someone you meet with in your community or industry – find out what they do and whom they are trying to meet. Explain what you do and who your trying to meet. There are three types we want to meet:

  • Complimentary product or service
  • Someone who has the ear of your prospect. Who else is getting in front of them – who are those people?
  • Mover or Shaker – figure out who those people are, but you also want to be those people. Who everyone knows, likes, trusts. If you help them, they will help you. Help people first.

Where are you doing your networking? Don’t do it everywhere. Figure out what makes the most sense to you and build relationships in those organizations. May be chambers, trade organizations, charities for example. Figure out what you want to be involved in, jump in 110%.

Your Goal:  

When you go to a networking function, set a goal. Meet strategic alliances. Never leave without meeting two strategic alliances – the reason you are there is to find them.

The Conversation
What do you do?

How long have you been doing it?
Do you like it?
If I was to find someone who was a good referral, who would that be?

Be helpful. Asking about their favorite subject – themselves. You are looking for the 20% of people who get it. Suggest meeting outside of event to share those things – help each other. Amazing how much those relationships can build.

Follow Up: We usually walk out of events with pile of business cards which we generally ignore and eventually throw out. Follow up with everyone!!!! All the people you met – within 48 hours. Handwritten notes. Website called Follow up-cards.com – can customize and keep track. Then when you go to the next event, those people are going to come over to you….it’s about building relationships. Can put business card in there. Keep it simple.

Make Swiss cheese out of your newspaper – put clips in card and send to people. It’s not about you, it’s about them.

Givers gain – look to help other people first.

When you meet with someone on Sales side, one of three positive outcomes you should always have:
Always have one of 3 positive results:

  • Have a “Yes”
  • Get a “No” – so you don’t waste any more time.
  • Get a Clear Next Step – has three things. Date of follow up, time of follow up and an agenda of what will happen when you do follow up.

ITALK (acronym for info below)
Incident: people aren’t spending as much money
Thought: have to give discount, make it cheaper
Actual feeling: if I don’t do that I am not going to make as much money, I’m afraid
Lead action: we do it
Known result: we close less business, and what we close is discounted. Your known result is what you think. What you believe is what happens.

To get over that, here is what you have to do:

Prospecting – number one thing that you do, Activities, build your business: cold calling, networking, past clients. This is NOT an option, need to do consistently.

Pre-Qualification – you have to pre qualify everyone before you meet with him or her. Make sure that person is someone you should be spending time with and make sure they know you are not desperate. Psychology of people is that they have to feel that they earned the right to work with you. If we see if it fits, it will make more sense. Plus prospect shares issues and is selling themselves to you. Ask good questions to uncover is they are a good fit. Get that person talking.

Interview – when you are with them on the phone or in person, you are asking more questions to see if they are a good fit. Tell about your situation, your organization, what are you trying to achieve. Perception, Competition, Ask thought-provoking questions. Asking as opposed to telling leads to a self-discovery process. They think it’s their idea. Talk about budget. Set clear next step.

Follow up Email – summarize everything you talked about and send in an email. Recap what they said. Add clear next step.

Recommendation: Last Step. Proposal. Only after you have done all the other four above. Do not propose too early. Discuss issues and money range.

Guest Blogger: Phyllis Ershowsky, MBA, APR, CPRC, PKE Marketing & PR Solutions  phyllis@pkecreative.com