Who’s selling for you? If your first reaction is to think about the list of names of people you’re paying on your sales team that’s only part of the answer. Those people are paid, usually through a base salary and ideally a leveraged commission plan to sell your product and services. Hopefully they’re doing a good job for you but they’re not the point of this article.
What about your unpaid sales force? Don’t have one? You should.
Your unpaid sales force is made up of people for whom you’ve done an outstanding job (maybe you’re working with them now or did in the past). You have an on-gong relationship with them and they’re always happy to tell people they meet about the product or service you delivered. They’re raving fans of yours and do it not because of some monetary relationship but because your product or service delivered exceptional value to them and they believe in you.
Every company should have an unpaid sales force like this. I have one and I can think of a number of people for whom I do the same. The list of people for whom I “sell” includes lawyers, CPA’s, bankers, financial advisors, web experts, and even my plumber! I’m not going to brag about who is in my unpaid sales force but suffice it to say it’s primarily based upon clients for whom I’ve solved problems over the years.
These referrals are not based upon a networking event where you’ve simply exchanged business cards with someone over morning coffee or an evening cocktail. They’re also not quid-pro-quo relationships (i.e., I’ll recommend you if you recommend me). Those are hollow. Rather these are authentic relationships that have stood the test of time and a difficult problem (or perhaps several).
This referral network looks like a giant spider web of relationships. It continues to grow and expand. You may recommend someone dozens of times and they may never have the opportunity to return the favor. But odds are that someone else will. I firmly believe if you put good into the great spider web of business networking and you’re delivering exceptional value that you’ll get good out of it.
I especially try to do this for small businesses. Just the other morning the local Dent Nation fixed a rather severe door ding on my Jeep. I took a few moments to post a favorable comment on their Face Book page and a Google review. Similarly, there is a coffee and bike shop near me called Cursed. I’ve held nearly every morning coffee meeting I’ve had since they opened to help introduce them to potential new customers. These individual small acts may go unnoticed but I believe done hundreds or thousands of times they’ll ultimately pay big dividends over the long run.
So, if you don’t have an unpaid sales force, I’d recommend that you ask yourself the hard question as to why not? Is it because you have failed to deliver remarkable value to your customers? Or could it be because you aren’t putting anything into the system? Or perhaps there is there some other reason?
Whatever you conclude, I suggest you get to work on fixing it so that a year from now when you ask yourself the same question, you’ll get a better answer.
If your business could benefit from fractional CFO services, I would welcome the chance to speak with you. Please give me a call at (314) 863-6637 or send an email to [email protected]
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