As a fellow small business owner, I know we would all be more profitable if we discovered other firms that can stand to benefit from contributing to a Network of Existing Economic Relationships; hence the acronym, N.E.E.R. Picture a virtual BNI group, on steroids; or a Master Mind group without the annoying monthly meetings. You become a crusader for a small handful of firms that you trust, and they do the same for you! Each member of this “network” becomes an extension of your sales force, without the burdensome overhead. Do you see it?
Now, compare this no cost marketing approach, to the alternative: Firing At Random, or F.A.R. The sad truth is that most business development professionals have no method to their madness; they’re just another example of the “random walk model.” They wander from one networking event to another, with no tangible goals, targets or strategy. We learned in “Alice in Wonderland” that, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Do you want to ensure you are on the right path to profitability?
An excellent example of a business owner who “gets it” is my fellow SBT Publisher’s Advisory Board member and contributing writer, Craig Klein, CEO of SalesNexus. If you don’t know Craig or his fantastic online CRM and email marketing firm, you need to contact him, but only if you want to increase your sales, of course! Craig, as part of his N.E.E.R. Marketing Strategy, has aligned with Michael Halper, CEO of SalesScripter. If your sales and business development efforts include using the telephone, for inside sales, you need to carefully assess SalesScripter. They will create your phone scripts, automatically, based on your desired outcomes. Now picture Craig and Michael coming together to help you, with their combined sales efforts. But wait…there’s MORE! (Borrowed from a Ginsu knife commercial, I believe.) Craig and Michael, combined, bring a great value equation. Now, NextStep Solutions, and yours truly, joins the mix to create a triumvirate that provides a total solution for any client who wants to accelerate their sales faster than they could if they had to seek each of us out individually.
Now, all three of us divide and conquer, making sales calls and introducing the value to our candidates. Do you see the leverage this N.E.E.R. Marketing Strategy can deliver? We have, in essence, tripled our sales force, and quadrupled our productivity, in serving you, our next client. Take this template and apply it to your own situation. The key is to align with firms that compliment you, providing more “touch points” on the value circle, which your next client seeks.
The essence of “Grassroots Marketing” is to resign yourself to the fact that you are never off the clock! Regardless of what it says on your business card, you are the Ambassador for your company, your cause, or yourself. To that end, you’ll always be around strangers, or people we call contacts. Contacts are people you meet for the first time, and you have no clue as to their qualification or interest level. Being cognizant of your relationships network, you now have three choices when meeting these new people:
- IGNORE: This is a safe and easy bet. Whether you’re on an elevator, in a hotel lobby, or at a convention center, there’s nothing uncomfortable about ignoring people. Of course there’s nothing profitable about it, either.
ACKNOWLEDGE: Better than the first choice, this is where you at least acknowledge the person, with a comment like, “How about those ‘Stros?” Or, “It’s sure hot today.” This is what I’ve coined a nonversation. That’s where two people talk, and don’t say anything meaningful. (Heck, anyone can pull a word from a dictionary. I choose to make up cool sounding words!)
- ENGAGE: This is clearly the best choice of the three. This is where you do one of two things, easily and sincerely. The first is a tasteful compliment (i.e., “That’s sure a great looking tie!”) You will be amazed at how the body language changes immediately and the voice raises an octave or two. Or, you can find out what you have in common with a person. I challenge you to always do it in three questions or less. It can be done and I’d be happy to demonstrate it. After you find the common ground, let the relationship begin!
For most of you, hearty CONGRATULATIONS are in order. You have chosen to read the fastest growing magazine in the country, which deals with Main Street, and not just Wall Street! Great choice! If you haven’t chosen to join, and assume a leadership role, in an organization of like-minded business professionals, now’s the time and don’t delay! When they asked the notorious thief Willie Sutton why he robbed banks, he replied, “that’s where the money is!” I suggest you assess where the money is regarding your choice of organizations and events to attend. As you meet like-minded professionals who “get it”, invite them into your Network of Existing Economic Relationships.
Jack Warkenthien, CEO, NextStep Solutions. Email him at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 832-344-6998