This is a great article from my partner Rob Greenstein. Check it out.
People seem to think that because technology provides them with the capability to do something, that they are free to do it. You know that guy who blabbers on his cell phone in the middle of the restaurant, or the movie theater, annunciating his drivel at decibel levels better suited for the ballpark? As long as his counterpart can hear what he has to say, the heck with the rest of us. He can do it because the technology permits him to do it, but etiquette says otherwise. In business, violating etiquette laws can prove costly in the long term. If our cell phone wielding friend booms his boorish banter in a restaurant full of prospective customers, he may create a roomful of lost appetites and a heap of lost business.
What’s my point? You can feel free to take the hint if the person depicted above describes you… Personal computers, mobile phones & PDAs are serving up instant marketing and communication gratification to anyone connected. Because technology allows us to reach large numbers of contacts quickly and cheaply, the line between respectful communication and flat-out abuse can become clouded. Network Marketers are some of the most aggressive users of cutting-edge web and telecommunications technologies. We’re no dummies; we figure that by rigging up clever websites, flashy online presentations, e-mail blasts and auto-responders that we’ve supercharged the networking model.
Fact is, as an industry, we’ve overused all these technologies to the point that even the greatest new invention is just more marketing noise amidst the millions of FREE, super-duper, GROUND FLOOR, ACT NOW offers. We’ve taken the most accessible medium the world will ever know and turned it into one big insomniac’s nightmare, a perpetual infomercial, where “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunities arise every ten minutes.
Even a great product or business presentation that you would encourage someone you actually know to check out must now be weighed against dozens of other presentations. Internet marketers inundate prospects with competing offers—marketers who most likely talk loudly on cell phones in restaurants.
It is not just technology that enables rudeness. Network marketers don’t have to prospect every waiter and waitress they meet on the first meeting. That’s just plain rude. People need to be warmed up over time in person just as they need to electronically. The opportunity to prospect someone is not a “right”, it is a privilege earned after developing rapport with them over time. If you think they’d be a good prospect, then leave a great tip and eat there often.
So, under the circumstances, how do you differentiate your offer and stand out? Will you be able to hide behind your computer, take lots of orders and sponsor automatically without talking to so many people in person? Well, business doesn’t work like that. Even companies that do millions of dollars in sales a day on the web do so because they spent millions of dollars in advertising, and have built a name by respecting and providing quality to their customers.
To find the answers, think back to when you made your first plunge into the industry. Did you get in because a stranger sent you thirty-paragraph e-mail that was so inspiring that you pulled out all of your credit cards? Or did someone who respected you ask you to take a look a something that they were excited about. Perhaps you answered an advertisement. Did the person on the other end of the phone sound like a game show host, or did they talk to you, get to know you, build rapport, and listen to what you had to say?
This all takes us back to the timeless fundamentals of networking. How do we build the old-fashioned way, yet still use the hottest technologies available today. Start with respecting your target.
The depth to which you build personal and business relationships will differentiate you more than anything else. You know you are building strong enough relationships when your customers won’t buy similar products from your competitors without asking your opinion first. You know your relationship is deep enough with your business team when they value your friendship more than another opportunity that sounds exciting at the moment.
The best business relationship begins with a genuine, mutual interest.
- Warm market
- Hand-outs/Business cards
- Print ads
- Direct mail
- Reputable targeted lists (few and far between)
The number one way to build relationships is by communicating to the right person at the right time about the right topic. The only way to accomplish this is by using a good contact manager that allows you to easily sort your records into a multitude of contact groups.
Using technology to send pre-written letters to your prospects, customers and sales team is also a great way to leverage your time and cultivate relationships with a large number of people in just a few hours of work. Your letters should appear as though you took the time to write each contact personally, and have no hint of being mass-marketing pieces. Letters can help you build relationships if they are personalized in 3 ways.
1. Use your database or contact manager to separate your prospects, customers and sales team into contact groups.
2. Write a natural-sounding personalized letter to each contact group.
3. Use your program’s mail-merge feature to automatically add your contact’s name to personalize each letter.
Send letters by e-mail for those who you have an address on file and by postal mail for the rest.
Your contact manager should also allow you to schedule follow-up phone calls with each important contact. You can’t possibly remember all that was said in your last conversation, so be sure to keep great notes in their contact record. Use any clue to schedule a follow-up call in your task manager. If they spoke of an important event like a birthday, surgery, new baby, or college graduation, then make a note of it and schedule a follow-up.
When your competition is trying to remember to follow-up, or writing notes on sticky yellow pads or sending out cold impersonal mass marketing pieces, you’ll have the relationship advantage.