I am both thrilled and saddened by the amount of e-Christmas cards I have received this Festive Season. Thrilled because it is saving trees of course and also some of them have been very creative and fun to watch. Saddened because a fantastic opportunity to connect to your clients in a personal way has been missed.
Let me explain my thinking. Everybody likes to feel that somebody has gone to some trouble on their behalf; to be made to feel special. Any kind of hand-written note will do this but a well selected and personalised Christmas card is just the absolute best.
Running through a CRM database and ticking the names of people who you want your e-Christmas mail to go to is not really the same as a personal message written in your own hand with a nice ink pen. Plus the fact you can’t really fill your desk with emails unless you print them off and then that’s more dead trees.
Wishing somebody a happy Christmas alongside a shared experience from the last year; something you will be doing together in the year to come or just a simple “thank you” will really connect and reinforce a personal relationship.
I wrote mine last night. It took a couple of hours with Mrs Ames as my glamorous assistant packing the cards into the boxes. Not only is it a good thing to do but I really enjoyed thinking about the people I was sending them to.
It’s not too late, dear readers. Even if your firm has pressed the button and unleashed 10,000 emails into the Christmas ether you can still slip round to Smiths, buy 50 nice cards and send them to your special clients and hot leads. I promise they will appreciate it.
You know it makes festive as well as business sense.
I’ll tell you what surprises me: the way people try to go from cold to red-hot in a sales relationship and then wonder why they weren’t successful. It’s like “hi, my name is Mike Ames, now do you want to buy this…..”. I know it’s not quite like that but believe me I have witnessed scenarios not too far adrift and it happens an awful lot out there.
Consider, for a moment, the art of seduction. So you want to start a new relationship with somebody you find attractive (and vice versa of course) do you steam straight in there and ask “hi, my name is Mike Ames – would you like to come back to my place?” Of course not. At best you would receive a withering look and at worst risk some kind of physical violence and even if somebody said yes are they really the kind of person you want to have a relationship with? I think not. But that is precisely the approach that many people do take when trying to sell their offerings.
An alternative approach is to see sales as a seduction (because that is precisely what it is) and to conduct yourself accordingly. Know who you find attractive, find out where they go, either have a “patter” that you can approach them with or better yet arrange for somebody to introduce them, show them how you are different and get to them to imagine how great life would be for them if they were in a relationship with you. Then you need to enter into the ritual courtship slowly moving the relationship forward in a number of small non-threatening steps getting ever closer to your end-goal until the moment is right and then whoosh – in you go.
So stop selling like a one-night-stand and start a proper courtship – you stand a much better chance of making a home run if you’ve touched all the bases first.
If you want to see my good self talk about this in person then just click to play.
I just met a really special guy who I shall call Nick, mainly because that happens to be his name. We met up for a reason that doesn’t matter as far as this blog goes but we got onto talking about sales and particularly networking. Nick is a consummate sales person who, as with all great sales people, comes across as anything but salesy. He is charming, down to earth, listens and concentrates on the little things but the most striking aspect of Nick’s approach was his view of relationships. If he said “people buy from people” once he must have said it 10 times and I completely agree.
Trouble is many people say it but few of them live it but that is where Nick is different: he walks the walk not just talks the talk – in short he is a connector. At the end of our discussions I asked a favour – I am keen to make a noise about education. I don’t intend to bang on about it now but I feel that we don’t educate our children so much as process them and like some great Soviet 5 Year Plan produce what we want not necessarily what industry needs. Also for a man that loves metrics like I do I think for the next 5 years there shouldn’t be any in education at all. There you go, I said I wasn’t going to bang on about it but I have – sorry.
Anyhow, back to Nick. As soon as I had roughed out my ideas Nick was straight in there thinking of which of his massive network engine he could introduce me to. Now I am thankful to Nick for his support on this campaign but in the wider scheme of things what an asset he has there. Key people in industry and government who all dig him and do you know how he managed to amass such a treasure-trove of contacts? He gives without any thought of return – a true Real Networker if you ask me and an inspiration to us all.