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Follow-up Follow-UP

5 Nov

Ivan Misner posted on his blog – What Is the Number-One Trait of a Master Networker? this week and I thought, “Absolutely dead-on!”

Nothing frustrates me more than giving a referral to someone and then they DON’T FOLLOW UP. I’ve asked my colleague if they’d accept this referral to and now I have to explain why there was no follow up. This affects my reputation. That’s why Inquisix allows members to rate the referral in both ways – rating how well one party handled the referral and how well the other party gave the referral.

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Inquisix – Business Relationships that Last

27 Oct

BusinessRelationshipsThatLast

I just ordered this book because that’s what Inquisix members do – they build business relationships that last.

If you’ve already read the book, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Sales Rant – Why can't your company handle an onbound query from a prospective buyer?

16 Oct

I called a division of Acme Industrial [name changed to protect the guilty] a week ago and asked to speak to someone in sales as I had some questions.   The service runs about $7500-12,000 per year, not an insubstantial amount of investment. The phone system asked me to press 1 if I wanted to speak to someone who “would be happy to answer your questions about our services.” The person I got didn’t know anything about the product at all, and said someone would call me back.  Already a bad precedent, I wonder how the sales rep covering my territory would feel about their inside team dropping the ball.

A week goes by. A week!

SalesRant

So I call back today and go thru the menu prompts again and again I’m told I’ll be transferred to someone who “would be happy to answer your questions about our services.” When they did answer, they said that they have no record of my call last week. They put me on hold for 4 minutes. They come back on the line and ask me for the same contact information I provided a week earlier. Didn’t ask any qualifying questions, curiously, like budget, timeframe, or even what 2-3 top questions I wanted answered. Said “someone will call you back.” When I asked when I would hear from them or who would call me, the rep didn’t know. I pointed out it had been a week and I wanted this information as soon as possible so I could make a final decision – would I get a call back today? “I’ll ask them to call you sooner rather than later.”

By contrast, their competitor took my call live on the first time I called them, answered my questions reasonably well, and sent me email today to follow up.

What company can afford to put themselves in this situation? How many other calls did they handle this way? Sales live by the numbers, but this team isn’t doing themselves any good. And with marketers scrambling to justify their existence and their budgets based on closed leads, its clear that getting the metrics right is only part of the equation. What does this experience communicate to me as a prospective buyer about what it may be like to work with these guys? I felt a lack of accountability, lack of concern for me as a customer, and a very low service experience.   Guess who’s product I purchased?  And that Acme Industrial sales rep handling my territory never even knew what they lost.

Thanks to Malay Pharma Sales Rep Rant  for the picture.

That "SEND" button causes mischief and unintended response

5 Oct

Ever hit the “send” button on your email too quickly and then wished you could pull it back?  And if you try Outlook’s “Recall Message…” all it really does is highlight to the recipient that you made a mistake.

Here’s a perfect example of not proofing before you email.  And this was a cold call email blast to me from someone I don’t know.  Think I’ll be responding to this email with anything but “unsubscribe?”

ContactFirstName

Talk Radio Podcast : Emergence of Reputation Networks : Sept 23, 2009

2 Sep

I had an amazing Blog Talk Radio with Jon Hansen of PI Window on Business last week.  We spoke over our allotted time, almost an hour, on the emergence of reputation networks such as Inquisix.  With it being so easy to make connections on the web and trade recommendations, how can people who don’t know you really trust what they read about you?

Topics we discussed included:

  • Value of References
  • Giving vs Getting
  • Political Patronage and References
  • Verifying References
  • Integrity of Referral/Reference Process
  • Does Social Media Help or Hurt
  • Extending Your Reference Base with Integrity
  • Emergence of Reputation Networks with Social/Business Networking

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/BTRPlayer.swf?displayheight=&file=http://www.blogtalkradio.com%2fJon-Hansen%2fplay_list.xml?show_id=662419&autostart=false&shuffle=false&volume=80&corner=rounded&callback=http://www.blogtalkradio.com/FlashPlayerCallback.aspx&width=215&height=108

If BTR podcast doesn’t show above, please go to Jon’s site to listen to it.

On a side note, talking with Jon was one of the easiest and most enjoyable online discussions I’ve had.  Jon prepared me for the call by sending me some topics to think about prior to our interview.  He was calm when we had a few technical difficulties to iron out before we went on the air.  And his engaging demeanor and conversation made the conversation lively, interesting and valuable.   I was certainly surprised to learn later that Jon’s only been a BTR host for a short time.  Jon has written a book, “Your Show Will Go Live in 5 Seconds” about his experiences as a Blog Talk Radio Host.  If  you’re thinking of becoming a BTR host or are thinking of your personal branding via Social Media, you owe it to yourself to read this book.  An excerpt is available at no charge at Jon’s site.  Not surprising, his book reads as breezy and well as listening to him online.

JonHansenBook

Talk Radio Event: Emergence of Reputation Networks : Sept 23, 2009

23 Aug

Jon Hansen hosts a Talk Radio Show, “PI Window on Business” that reaches an estimated 300,000 syndicated subscribers worldwide every month.  The PI Social Media Network is internationally recognized for its ability to identify, structure and disseminate the ideas and visions that are reshaping the emerging global enterprise.

JonHansen

He’s talking with Michael Kreppein, Chief Sales Officer of Inquisix, to examine more closely the emergence of “reputation networks” and their effects on personal branding in the Web 2.0 world. Reputation networks, like Inquisix, are gaining ground to combat the growing problem within the realms of social networking, where references or testimonials are bartered by an ever-expanding network of interloping relationships between name collectors versus relationship builders.

Please join us.

Wednesday September 23, 2009 at 12.30pm ET

Do you "Give to Get" or "Give for Money" Referrals?

3 Aug

Did anyone see JigSaw’s recent announcement that they’ve sent up an exchange where you can sell a referral to your contacts?  It’s called “JigSaw Connect” and given the number of members they have (850K registered  members), this could be the first exchange to make selling a referral by the individual sales rep successful.

Selling a referral to your customer isn’t anything new.  Companies have been doing it at the corporate level for years.  They call it the affiliate program or the business development partner program or just the reseller program.  And this seems to be a well understood and accepted practice by the customers.

Individual sales reps and agents selling a referral to their customer in certain industries isn’t new, either.  The introduction of a mortgage broker by the real estate agent that just found your new home probably comes with a kick-back to the agent from the mortgage broker.  Maybe the referral fee is not as well understood by the consumer but I don’t think anyone would be surprised.

Now JigSaw is taking this to a new level.  It’s at the rep level where an individual rep can earn $200 by referring their customer to any vendor that’s signed up to advertise on JigSaw Connect.  And it’s many industries, even ones where traditionally the selling of referrals at the rep level is frowned upon.  The only other site I’ve seen that offers this exchange of referrals for cash is SalesConx, a startup based in New York City.  But they don’t have the membership scale that JigSaw has.

I’ll be very interested to see how JigSaw Connect fares.  JigSaw itself received a lot of negative press early on because people were offended that their business information was sold anonymously.  JigSaw will say that they’re just collecting business information differently than a Hoovers or OneSource but aren’t any different in the information they deliver.  I’ve used JigSaw for years and Inquisix is a JigSaw data partner so I don’t have an issue with the service.

Still, selling referrals versus giving referrals is an interesting dilemma for some.  BNI members give referrals to get them in return, i.e. “Givers Gain“.  At Inquisix, we encourage members to give referrals to increase their reputation with their own customer.  But no money is exchanged.

Would you anonymously sell the business cards you’ve collected to a data broker, i.e. JigSaw?

Would you sell a referral to a business contact you have?

There’s a big jump in effort, responsibility, and reputation between the 2 questions.  Let’s see how this pans out.

Consummate Networkers Presentation by Inquisix

29 Jul

As mentioned in a previous post, Pat Weber runs an online networking group called the Consummate Networkers and she invited me to speak to her group last week.

Pat has three key areas of consummate networking:

* Show Up
* Dive In
* Follow up

Pat asked me to talk about the Dive-In area so I presented to over 30 attendees on, “The Morning After….Attending the Networking Event.” We used the BlitzTime solution so that everyone could see & hear the presentation and then do one-on-one networking afterwards. All from the comfort of their home, office or car.

http://www.viddler.com/player/b22c378e/

Managing Customers in the Short Term for the Long Term

28 Jun

How do you treat long-time customers when the economy is this challenging?  Are you tightening the rules to manage costs or are you more liberal in your policies?

I went to a business that I had purchased from for many years but not over the last year.  They greeted me warmly as if I had just talked with them yesterday, with no hint of criticism or complaint in their voice.

Later that day, I went to another business that I also frequent often.  They know me well enough to recommend new products they think I’d like.  And they know I’ve referred other customers to them. I was 90 minutes late in returning an item I had rented and they wanted to charge me another full day.  It’s their policy and it’s posted.  When I asked for leniency, the owner’s reply was, “It’s our policy and you need to pay.”

The next day I received a rather large bill.  I had made a mistake in understanding the rules so the bill was correct if unwelcome.  When I asked the Accounts Payable person for some flexibility, I was flatly turned down.  When I asked to speak to the owner, I was told that he refused to discuss these issues with anyone.  “Even customers who’ve purchased from him for 20 years?” I asked.  The answer was, “Yes.”

The economy is going to get better.  I will spend more money.  I will continue to make referrals to my vendors.  Which vendor mentioned above will continue getting my business and my referrals?

Successful Referrals Require More than Just Your Reputation

26 May

Paul McCord has an excellent series of posts on the 4 requirements for a successful referral.

pillars

Pillar 1: Your Relationship to Your Client
Pillar 2: Your Client’s Purchasing Experience
Pillar 3: Your Client’s Relationship to the Referred Prospect
Pillar 4: How You Contact Your Referred Prospect

Paul says that clients don’t like to give referrals. I agree, I think they’re much better at being a reference then pro-actively giving you a referral.  But referrals can be earned and Paul details the “how” which mostly revolves around your reputation with your client.

What’s really interesting is discussed in Paul’s 3rd pillar.  He says, “Your referred prospect will view YOU the same way they view your Client– Good, Bad, or Indifferent”  I absolutely agree.  Inquisix’s data on the quality of a reputation given shows that the better the relationship between the the person giving the referral and their referred colleague, the better the referral experience.  The first hint of a bad referral is how the referral is handled, which is Paul’s 4th Pillar.

So the primary reputation factor in a good referral is not between the person asking and the person giving the referral. Rather, it’s between the person giving the referral and their referred colleague.

Pillars 3 and 4 are why Inquisix allows members to rate each side of the referral via reputation points.  If you give a referral, that member will rate you on the quality of the referral given.  If you get a referral, that member will rate you on how well you treated their trusted colleague. Your Inquisix reputation rating of giving and getting referrals then becomes the badge that all other members can use to validate your credentials.

memberrating