COACH KEN: Is Your “Net” Working?
I often get asked, “Ken, what is the best way to network?” I have an unusual response to this question that requires a lengthy answer. I tell them to imagine they are fishing with one of two kinds of nets: a “casting net” and a “drag net.” A casting net spans about six feet in circumference and drag nets can be up to fifty feet long. The casting net is thrown into the ocean water by one person and after many tries you are lucky to catch two or three fish. A drag net can be twenty to fifty feet long and requires at least two people. The individuals choose a spot where they have seen some fish jumping in the ocean and “drag” the net for several hundred feet. The result? A net full of fish! Effective business networking requires a “drag net.” The person helping you with your drag net is your referral source. Here is how effective networking works:
- You strategically choose someone to help you with your drag net. We call this your referral source. The best referral sources are your best customers, close friends, or someone in your networking group (more on networking groups later).
- Your satisfied customers are your best source of referrals. To get the maximum amount of referrals, like getting fish, you strategically drag your net (your referral strategy) through a series of questions. Here are the networking process I use when I am out with my customers:
- I ask the salesperson to identify their top customers with whom they have built trust through providing great service, and set up appointments with each of them.
- On the appointment the salesperson/fisherman starts dragging their net (dragging the next is asking a series of questions). Here are the questions to ask:
Salesperson: “Jim, I wanted to meet with you today to ask a few questions regarding the service we have been able to provide to you. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
Customer: “No, not at all.”
Salesperson: “How is the customer service we have been able to provide to you?”
Customer: “It’s been great, you always either meet or exceed my expectations.”
Salesperson: “Thanks so much for the compliment Jim, I always try to provide the best service possible to important clients like yourself.” Could I ask you a quick question?”
Salesperson: “How many vendors do you have that supply you with goods and services where you are the customer?”
Customer: “About fifteen to twenty.”
Salesperson: “Do you think they would appreciate the level of outstanding service I’ve been able to provide to you?”
Customer: “I’m sure they would appreciate quality service.”
Salesperson: “Great, how do I get in touch with them in a way that is comfortable for you, knowing I’m focused on building relationships and providing the exceptional service you described you received from me?”
Customer: “ I’ll get you a list with the contact information.”
Salesperson: “Jim, thank you so much. I’ll keep you in the loop as I make contact. Thanks so much for your trust in me; I won’t let you down.”
I have gone on sales calls with our clients and used this process many times, always with great results!
Successful people do what unsuccessful people are afraid to do or are too lazy to try new techniques and processes. What about you? Are you willing to practice and implement new things? If you do, you will be among the sales professionals that go the extra mile and become champions!