by CEO on June 10th, 2014

In my last blog I talked about ‘touches’ – studies have shown that it takes at least 10 touches to close a deal. So, what does that mean?

Recently, I did a workshop on follow up and found that most of the attendees thought that reaching out to touch a prospect or client meant only two things:

1) Calling them
2) Meeting with them

In actuality most sales professionals are probably doing more than they think. However, you probably don’t have a repeatable system – so how do you know? And since there’s no system, you have to come up with a ‘new system’ for every single prospect. That’s stressful!

Below is a sample system after meeting a prospect (not just anyone) at a networking event. Your system might be very different (depending on your product, service, or industry) but below is an start that you can use.

1st touch: Event – meeting them, qualifying them, getting contact information (business card). [I have a spreadsheet and I track where I met them. This gives me the ability to see what events I’m getting the best results from]

2nd touch: NTMY email – NTMY: Nice To Meet You [I have this as a systemized signature email (ie: basically the same email that goes to everyone with possibly a minor change or two, it does include a subtle CTA (Call To Action)]

3rd touch: phone call – ask for 2nd meeting (an appointment or coffee)

4th touch: Confirmation email – confirming your appointment or requesting a time (depends on what happened in previous call)

5th touch: Appointment – answer questions, create rapport, begin relationship, reconfirm interest (at the appointment it is purely get to know them. It’s not about you. Ask a lot of questions about them and their business.)

6th touch: Request to connect – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc

7th touch: Follow up email – recapping your appointment, giving information they requested, confirming or requesting time to show product/service

8th touch: Product meeting – attends a meeting to ‘sample a product’ or see your office (this would be dependent on your business)

9th touch: Thank you email – another signature email that includes benefits and sales info (how to buy, benefits of buying, etc)

10th touch: Rinse & Repeat – whatever of these touches might need to be repeated and repeat and repeat

Don’t over complicate it but DO systemize it. There are two simple rules for the system:

Rule 1: Write it down in a place where you can add, delete prospects easily from the system (I recommend a spreadsheet but I’ve seen people that use sticky notes on a wall. Doesn’t matter as long as it works over and over)

Rule 2: You can’t change the system for every individual. If you change your system it’s only because you realize that (over time) you have one of the following:

a) Something in the system is causing stress. This usually means that you’re just not doing it. Get rid of that touch. Replace it with something else that doesn’t cause you stress.

b) Something in the system is missing. Your doing something regularly but it’s not being captured in the system and it’s causing you stress because you may not know exactly where to ‘do’ it at. 

by CEO on May 9th, 2014

You’ve attended the event and you’ve collected several business cards. Now what?

I’m amazed at how many intelligent, well meaning business professionals attend networking events to find business yet they have NO follow up system. They appear to be there to add to their ever growing business card collection. Hint: Business cards are worthless! They don’t grow in value by collecting or keeping them.

With that said, let’s talk about how to follow up with people you’ve met at a business event.

First step: have a system. Write it out. Put it on a spreadsheet, or make a bulletin board. It doesn’t really matter as long as it’s a system that works for you. If you have a CRM system use it; if not, try starting with Outlook. Don’t over complicate it, keep it simple.

There are millions of ways to follow up so get creative. Let your follow up reflect your style and working habits. It doesn’t need to be costly either. I had a friend once that sent a box full of play money and her card with a note taped to it. It was effective, definitely got their attention, and fun too!

Ask people when you meet them how they’d like to be followed up with. This can be as simple as: “Hey, I’d love to follow up with you this week, do you mind if I give you a call?”

Step two: How and when do you follow up? Here’s a few basics…

1)  Make a Phone Call – within 24 hours. First, it makes you look good and secondly it distinguishes you from everyone else. People don’t usually call back that quickly and it sets you apart from the crowd.

2)  Send a Note – send out within 48 hours. It should be handwritten!!! Yes, I said ‘hand-written. You don’t have to say much just a line or two and include your business card. Say when and where you met them. But DON’T make a sales pitch; it’s predictable and not a great relationship builder. It says “it’s all about me” and that’s NOT what you want.

3)  Send an Email – send out within 24 hours. Keep it short; one screen. Personalize if possible, but it should always be in conjunction with either #1 or #2 above. Don’t try to close the deal here – just simply make a touch that will set up your next step.

4)  Make a Personal Visit – If your prospect is in retail or office bound, this may be a great idea! If possible call to let them know you’re coming. DO NOT stop by uninvited expecting to get their time (this is cold calling not networking) unless they let you know it’s okay. Why should they stop their entire workday (or work moment) for your agenda?

5)  Text – texting is personal. Don’t use it unless the prospect’s told you it’s their preferred method of communication.

Step three: Rinse & Repeat – don’t give up. Studies have shown that it takes an average of 10 touches to close a deal. What’s a touch? Anytime you actually connect with the prospect in some way: make a call, see them, email them, etc.

by CEO on April 25th, 2014

While driving, being a victim of a ‘Hit & Run’ would not be a good thing. It’s not a good thing in networking either.

What’s a Networking ‘Hit & Run’?

You can always spot them entering any networking event. The ‘Hit & Run’ networker is well armed with all their marketing materials: business cards, brochures, sometimes even contracts! Their hands are full. They scan the room looking for their first victim – YOU!  They hit you with their pitch and materials then run before they have to engage in your side of the conversation.

I recently attended a networking event in Knoxville where a young woman offered me the perfect example of a ‘Hit & Run’. She arrived approximately 15 minutes before the event ended. She quickly scanned the room and spotted me. She very assertively walked up and asked me; ‘Have you ever heard of [the company she works for]? I answered ‘yes’. Her response: hand me several marketing materials, her card and to start into her pitch about their newest and greatest promotion. I really don’t think she cared whether I had heard of her company or not. When she was done with her pitch, she quickly ‘dismissed’ me and went on to her next victim, leaving me standing there.

I’ve not seen her at a networking event since then. She’ll be one of those people that say “networking doesn’t work”.

Good networkers always ask you what you do. Great networkers ask you what you do first! Networking is meant to create mutually beneficial relationships for business – NOT to sell.

Avoid being a ‘Hit & Run’ Networker

Put others first! Ask about them; have a real and genuine interest in whom you’re talking with and how to connect them with those that could be helpful to them (professionally or personally). The more you help others, the more they’ll want to help you in return. The benefit to you: you become the go-to networker.

To Bring Or Not To Bring

Always bring business cards and pen. Be willing to share your business card but don’t ‘give’ it to anyone and everyone. DO NOT bring marketing materials, brochures, contracts, etc.

If You Network Well, You Never Need to Sell ™ 

by CEO on March 20th, 2014

I was recently working with a small business owner that was struggling to find more business. He had come to me to teach him a little about networking and making connections. He’d attended several events and many people had referred him to me. After we talked a while, I made several suggestions. Every single suggestion I made was quickly met with some aspect “No, that won’t work!”  That’s fine…his choice.

My choice: I fired him.

Why did I fire him? Because his attitude wouldn't allow for anything new. Hint: Keep doing what you're doing and you'll keep getting what you're getting! So, I'm simply allowing him to continue on. 

Trying new things is why there are so many small businesses! But for some reason once a business owner goes into business they get stuck. They get stuck in their beliefs, their problems and stuck in a small set of solutions. Trying something new is not only scary, its risky.

Here are three things that are NOT risky that I recommend:
1) Find a CRM system.  Find one that tells you not only who your clients are but more importantly, who your prospects are and when and how to follow up with them.  Microsoft Outlook is probably already on your computer sitting there waiting for you to use it and it's a great place to start.

2) create a system for following up with people so you know who, how and when to call (and especially what to say).

3) create a prospect list: keep it simple. List the people or professions or companies that you’d like to meet. Then reach out to the people you know to find who knows them. Then get them to introduce you. How hard is that?

If you’re having a problem with networking; making connections or growing your business – YOU MUST CHANGE! If you want things to stay the same – then by all means keep doing what you’re already doing. BUT if you want to grow your business then doing what got you here, won’t get you where you want to go. YOU MUST CHANGE!

Change your ATTITUDE!

Change your SYSTEMS!

Change is good, however to change an attitudes is nearly impossible. Changing one attitude is equivalent to creating a miracle. Would you like to make your business miraculous? Then CHANGE your systems and your attitude about your them. Don’t have a system? Make one and tweak it until it works for you.

by CEO on February 4th, 2014

Almost daily I sit down with small business owners and coach them on how to develop the networking side of their business. Our time is usually spent talking about how to make the most of their time in REO. Things like:

• how to make better referral requests
• how to present an effective showcase
• what professions to target

Of course, I cover lots of other topics depending on their need. The more receptive they are to honest feedback and the more open they are to suggestions, the better. Most are fun and inspiring to both of us.

But there are those times where I have some tough feedback. Unfortunately (way too often),  I find myself asking: ‘Are you having any fun?’

Having fun in your business isn’t mandatory. However, having fun can get you through the hard times and the day-to-day grunge work too. If you’re not having fun it’s easy to get bored.

So, here are a few suggestions to add a little fun:

1)      Stop taking your business so seriously! Yes, your business is serious but taking it too seriously day-to-day makes you and your business heavy to you, your clients and your prospects! Does your seriousness come across as desperation? If you’re having a difficult time attracting new clients then the answer is most probably ‘yes’. Prospects can smell desperation as a dog smells fear.

2)      Learn to laugh! Laugh at your business, your mishaps, and your mistakes. Laughter is a great healer and a wonderful equalizer. Laughter and humor allows you and others to see you and your business as more approachable. Tell the embarrassing funny stories – they’re great stress relievers. I LOVE to share self-deprecating stories with my clients: it makes it easier for them to relate to me (with all my flaws). The thing is you’ve overcome those embarrassing moments and (now that you have) those stories have value. If you’ve overcome those moments, so can they.

3)      Think about what you’re attracting. If you’re not having fun are you attracting clients that you’re not having fun working with? When you have fun – it gives others permission to have some fun with you.

4)      Combinations Create a Charge! Combine personal interests with your marketing. Example: A financial planner years ago asked me how to differentiate herself from all the other financial planners. Her referral requests were just way too serious and bland. She’s an avid rock climber so I suggested that she combine the two. She now has fun bringing in climbing equipment to her REO team and she uses the analogies of climbing both rocks and a financial future. Aren’t they similar? Me, I love to drive and spend hours driving my little MR2 anywhere I get a chance to go. Much of my marketing and speaking is focused on road signs and ‘driving traffic’ to the small business.  This one suggestion can put the spark back into your business (and keep it there) because many people have more fun in their hobbies than they do their business.

So, if you’re not having fun in your business it could be costing you money! Get out of your comfort zone and have some fun. If you’d like a little help with how to do this feel free to contact me for an appointment by emailing me: ceo at

by CEO on January 28th, 2014

One of the core values of REO is to offer quality connections. Many people believe a good referral is when they’re given a person’s name and number with permission to use the referrer’s name. For example: Sue gives John the name and number of a woman in need of home repair after the recent storms; and Sue says: “It’s okay to use my name when you call her”. John now has one more contact than he had before… That’s good, right? Wrong!
Below, I relay a recent experience and why just giving someone a name and number is merely a lead, not a true referral – and how it can damage your networking reputation.

Here’s What Happened…
I got a call from Joe* (who tells me he got my name from Ava*). Now, I haven’t seen or heard from Ava in 3 or 4 years. Joe* tells me that Ava thinks so highly of me and values my opinion, and that I’d be… blah, blah, blah (you get the picture). I quickly realize that Ava gave my name because my value in her list is pretty low. I’m disposable. Remember, I haven’t had any contact with Ava in years. During our conversation, Joe tells me he’s a financial planner located about two hours from Knoxville. I really didn’t want to waste Joe’s time as I’m sure he had lots of calls to make. So, I told Joe I had no interest. He ignored that and continued, by trying to set up an appointment here in Knoxville.

The Tragedy of it All…
What’s pretty sad about this type of “referral/lead/cold-call” is that it’s a “Lose-Lose” situation for everyone. Ava’s made it pretty clear that she doesn’t value my connection much – my loss.  Joe, however, has lost the most with this lead. 1) He lost valuable time on a cold-call he thought was a referral. 2) He’s also ready to lose a lot more time and money driving 2-plus hours to Knoxville to try to ‘sell’ me anyway. 3) He’s probably wondering why none of the so-called ‘referrals’ that Ava gave him aren’t panning out. So Ava’s losing credibility. Lastly, Ava’s value to me as a connection is also lost because our first “interaction” in years was a negative one. How different all this would have been had Ava just called to ask if it was a service I was interested in. In that case – everyone would have a win-win!

The Moral of the Story…
Just because you have a name, doesn’t mean it means anything. Qualifying a referral is the difference between a referral and a cold-call lead.

How to avoid this…
Call your contact ahead of time to ask if they need or want the services of the professional you’re about to refer. Confirm that it’s okay to give out their information. Let them know who will be calling and why. Also, let the person you’re referring to know why this referral is a good connection (“They need your services because…” or “They were just talking about wanting X,Y,Z product”, etc.)

The Win-Win…
If you call your contact – they think you’re a hero for respecting their time. You’re a hero for finding them someone that you’d personally refer. You’re the hero for not wasting anyone’s time. And you’re the hero on everyone’s part if it all comes together.

*The names have been changed.

by CEO on November 8th, 2013

Watch a 55 second video about Emma…find out why she’s an unhappy small business owner

Emma’s Unhappy

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