When was the last time you actually talked to a telemarketer? Remember the pushy sales calls you’d get on your landline – where the salesman would do anything to keep you on the line, trying desperately to convince you that you needed whatever it was they were selling? You felt trapped, pinned against a wall until you could come up with an excuse to hang up… or worse, buy the product they were selling.
Thankfully, the “sell at all costs” business model is quickly becoming just as obsolete as landlines. Customers have become completely turned off by “in your face” selling, whether it’s toothpaste, professional services, or anything in between. Social media and mass communication have made people more connected than ever before, and that has also changed the way we have to do business.
People don’t want to feel like a tally in some spreadsheet – they want to feel like the person talking to them is looking to help them. For those of us with products and services to sell, this is a hard transition to make. But it’s one that is enriching, empowering, and ultimately beneficial to us and our businesses. The bottom line is that the pushy sales model just doesn’t work anymore!
It’s All About Intentions
Networking is more important in the middle market than any other sector of the economy. Our networks often provide critical support, whether it’s capital, candidate referrals, or emotional support. Without a foundation of strong relationships, many entrepreneurs would be completely lost. But just like sales have changed with people’s expectations, so has networking.
People want connection and relationships; they don’t want to feel like your only goal in a conversation is to make a sale. Even if they need your product or services, they’ll have a sour taste in their mouth and will be looking for a way to “hang up on the telemarketer” who’s so in their face.
Effective networking is about building a relationship, and that starts with your intentions. Relationships take work – they’re a two-way street of proactive communication that isn’t about sales. Approach meeting a new person as an opportunity to get to know them and their needs. You aren’t trying to sell them your product, you’re trying to make a connection and understand this person and their business.
It takes time and effort to nurture relationships. Put “making the sale” out of your mind and just have an open and honest conversation with those around you. You’ll find that this approach to networking often leads to a trusting relationship that brings more sales your way in the long run. When you’ve built trust over time, you know that you can trust that the person across from you understands you and has your best interests in mind. When that person needs your services, they will trust you in return! And as an added bonus, they will feel confident referring you to their network as well.
Your intentions matter. Think about the last time someone pushed too hard to make a sale. You probably saw right through their feeble attempts to be “friends” at the beginning of the conversation! If someone is expecting you to be a salesman and you pleasantly surprise them, you’re starting to build a relationship on trust. All that good will would be washed away if you launched into a pitch right when they start to let their guard down. If you have the right mindset, you will build a network of relationships that think of you first when they (or their friends) need your services – because they trust you!
At HireBetter, we are proud of the network that our team works hard to build and maintain. In fact, one of our core values is to “Always Do the Right Thing.” That means that whether we approach a potential client, or they approach us, we always ask questions and have conversations that get to the root of the issue facing the business. The service that we “sell” is executive candidate placement. But if it turns out that’s not the best solution for your problem, we’ll help you figure out what is.
We want to meet you where you are, and if we aren’t the right fit to solve this particular problem, we’ll happily refer you to someone who is. For example, if we analyze an org chart and determine that an internal candidate would make a fantastic CFO with a little coaching, we will refer you to our world-class executive coaching partners. And in the meantime, we can help you place an interim professional if you feel like you need someone in the chair right this second! We’ve built a network of referral partners that we trust to do right by our clients, and they trust us as well.
These core values and relationship building start at the top of the organization. For us, it’s our Co-Founder Kurt Wilkin. We communicate with our network regularly because it’s not about calling when you need something or need to make a sale… it’s about building trust over time and encouraging two-way communication.