Success in the complex B2B sales world is most often started by engaging in meaningful interactions with an executive decision maker or key evaluator. If you’ve read my thoughts on this before, you know that I believe a good conversation, a meaningful interaction, with a prospect is what it takes to get to the next level with executive decision makers.
These interactions most often start on the phone using a carefully curated prospect list, but I have also found that some of the most successful business relationships I’ve had over the years started in some unusual places.
Business Relationships can begin outside the office.
I have had meaningful interactions with strangers that led to future business or new business relationships in places like airports, in airplanes, on buses, at bus stops, hotel bars, and restaurants. Once I was in Orlando and had just arrived at the hotel and was waiting for the bus to the convention center with one other person. Turns out he was from my home town of Cleveland and worked at a large corporation for which JMS Elite had worked with 2 other divisions. He told me, “we’re actively looking for a firm like yours.” That conversation led to a successful business relationship for the both of us.
Another time, I was in NYC at a large retail conference and sat at the hotel bar next to a young couple, said hello, inquired if they were at the conference, and engaged in some small talk. It turned out that the woman was a marketing executive at a large tech company that needed the lead generation services of a company like ours even though she had a large inside sales force.
How do you make connections with people so that a chance meeting can turn into a sales meeting?
I think a key to making these sort of connections is having a mindset, an understanding that much of your future business and most of your future business contacts are outside your current network. It’s an explorer mentality that encourages you to be friendly, to be approachable, and to understand that while most people are shy, they are also looking for meaningful interactions, both business and personal. Keeping this in mind, I try and find common ground quickly in a first time encounter. It’s not all about business either, it’s about being friendly and nice to everyone; the store clerk, the flight attendants, or whoever happens to be in the seat next to you on the airplane.
Exploring in the right places can lead to successful business relationships.
I go to a lot of technology trade shows. My main purpose is to visit our clients who are exhibiting and certain prospects with whom I have pre-set meetings, but inevitably I’ll walk around the expo and check out the other vendors. Those folks are there to sell their solutions, so I’m not trying to sell to them. But when approached, I’ll simply tell them I’m not a prospect, just there visiting clients and many times they will ask what I do. So I tell them about JMS Elite and they are either interested or not. Sometimes it leads to new business opportunities. Other times I have helped sales reps with their teleprospecting strategy or found out they were looking for a new position and was able to help them connect within my network.
It’s okay to apply your “elevator pitch” in these situations but be mindful of when to turn it off.
If you pay attention you will be able to know if it rings a bell or it doesn’t, “I’m Co-Founder of a B2B teleprospecting firm that helps companies that offer complex, high-ticket solutions, products and services build their sales pipeline with qualified business opportunities.” I don’t want to bore someone who would have no connection whatsoever with my business service. I understand that the conversation may take a different, equally meaningful, track altogether like sports, music, dining, or even a mutual interest in coffee, my favorite.
The most unusual of these meetings happened at a wake at a funeral home. Believe me, I was most certainly not hunting for business there, but someone asked what I did for a living and it turned into a 6-year client relationship. Fate may have played a part, but I also believe that keeping an open “explorers” mindset and investing in a conversation with the person nearby can lead to new and rewarding business and personal relationships.
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