By Jack Warkenthien, CEO of NextStep Solutions
Timing Is Everything! Zig While Others Zag.
Over the past few articles, I hope you have seen a pattern; the more information you know about your candidates, the warmer your sales opportunity. Conversely, the more meaningful intelligence your candidate has about you and your company, the more likely they are to do business with you. Timing is everything and your job is to deliver the right information at the right time using the right media. Many of you who have been in sales for decades will attest to the fact that you enjoyed information disparity. Sellers had far more information/data/research/etc. than buyers. Thus, there was more of a need for you, back then. Now, welcome to information parity where buyers have as much information in which to make an informed decision as sellers. Are you ready for a “touching” solution?
Touch 12 System
If you had to bet next year’s sales quota, on a maximum of 12 relationships including your top opportunity decision makers and centers of influence (COI), are you able to draft your short list right now? If you can, a hearty congratulations to you! Now is the time to create your personal Touch 12 System; a system where you will begin to “touch” your 12 top sales sources once a month in one of four ways: Information, Education, Recognition, and Entertainment. For you math geniuses reading this article – 12 people, touched 12 times, equals 144 touches in a given year.
This is where you provide some fresh, insightful, meaningful information that will be appreciated by your “touchee”. Whether you’re informing a decision maker, COI, or whoever is on your Touch 12 list, this is about them and not you. There’s a time to sell and a time to inform. In fact, when you send your information, you can do it anyway you want – except by email. Old school is new school, so I suggest you use a note card with a real stamp and a handwritten note. Even though you’ll include a business card with the note, you should never ever mention your desire to sell something or ask for a referral. Information is all about them.
This is where you share what is newsworthy. What is new with your company, your value suite, your professional advancement, etc. Your firm may have announced a new product, service, executive, office, or solution so this is the time to blow your own horn. Education involves teaching your contact the “what, how, and why” surrounding your solution. Of course, it’s important to know where you are in the sales process, so the education creates a more informed buyer.
Funny thing about your centers of influence and even a few of your decision makers, they’re probably in the news occasionally. Many times, I see pictures of my group in the Society Pages of the Houston Chronicle (yes, I do have the daily paper thrown on my driveway every morning) wearing their finest penguin suits with an attractive spouse on their arm. I neatly clip their picture, append it to a note card with a personal message (e.g., “You definitely married up….”), and voila!
As one of your four options this month, you may want to call your contact and invite them to lunch, golf, a sports event, or even to Top Golf (a new popular alternative). Nothing builds relationships better and allows people to bond more than when they are at a non-business meeting. You are able to get to know each other a lot easier in a casual setting. Of course, your territory may be the world; and it’s difficult to meet someone at your favorite restaurant when they’re located in San Francisco and you’re in Houston. Entertainment for you may be clipping an especially relevant Dilbert comic (the only one I read in the paper) and sending it with a note that states, “I thought about you when I read this”. This is a simple yet powerful technique.
By touching 12 people once a month for a year, you will be truly amazed at how often your touch will solicit a phone call from your target saying, “Hey, thanks for the note. We’ve been thinking about bringing you in and speaking to our group”. Timing is everything and if you can make it easy for them to find you when they have a need, it is goodness all around. There’s no better way to become “top-of-mind awareness” than executing this system.
Disclaimer: Being the tech-savvy guy that I am, I’m going to share the intricate method of keeping track of my own Touch 12 contacts. Are you ready with pen and paper in hand? Okay. I have 12 green Pendaflex® files labeled January through December. Then I take my 4 x 6 index cards with all the contact information on them and move them from one month to the next until all cards are touched. Then, I start the process all over again.
Regardless of the system you use, be vigilant with it, and enjoy the benefits of touching your best contacts at least 144 times in 2015. Have a great year!
Jack Warkenthien, CEO, NextStep Solutions, can be contacted by email at