Are you looking for ?love? in all the wrong places?
I’ve jokingly said that the first three months I was in business I did just that. Not being from here, I spent time networking with everyone and anyone I could get introduced to in the hopes of expanding my contacts. However, a better approach quickly became apparent. Here are lessons from the trenches, so to speak.
Define your ideal target customer and figure out how to succinctly state that to someone else.
Mine is the Owner/CEO/President of a business with $2MM to $20MM in annual revenues, with 3+ sales people, that has been operating for a minimum of 3 years.
Know which events your ideal targets are likely to attend.
Much can be learned through trial and error, but let's minimize the errors. I’ve learned that my ideal targets are more likely to attend events centered around philanthropic/charitable, educational, political/government, economic development and/or health and welfare issues; and/or they’ll join groups with like-minded individuals of similar stature.
Approach prospecting as you did dating.
Keep your ideal criteria top of mind. When you were searching for that special someone you knew which characteristics you wanted them to have and whether any of those were negotiable. Most of the people you met weren’t a fit; some were worth dating for a while; a few made it to the final cut. The same applies to prospecting. You must discern whether the people you meet are a fit, in need of your product/service, have the money to invest with you and are worth your commitment, energy and resources. They’ll be checking you out in the same way. The mutual end goal is a long-term relationship.
Create a list of your top 20-25 ideal target customers and keep it with you at all times.
Introductions and referrals are precious. Seek them. When you share your list of ideal targets with others, it makes it quite easy for them to tell you whether they know them or not. Oftentimes it acts as a trigger leading them to think of others who may benefit from getting to know you. Ask them if they're willing to make an introduction and then coach them on what to say.
Remember, people refer others who are like them.
Large clients will refer other large clients. Small business owners will know and refer other small business owners. For the most part, women refer other women; men refer other men. This is a natural occurrence. If you stay true to your ideal customer definition, you’ll get introduced to those who are a fit and you’ll avoid spending time with suspects who don’t end up doing business with you.
Prospecting is about opening conversations with others to determine whether there may be an opportunity to work together. Be clear about your purpose, stay true to your ideal customer definition and you’ll soon find how effective targeted prospecting can be.