29 August 2019

ukfast office team working, time management, hoursAs a business leader, everyone wants your time and attention. Whether it is sign-off for this or confirmation of that, there is always a question from everyone you encounter.

When you add social media and email into the mix, it can quickly become unmanageable!

It’s all too easy for new people reaching out to you to get lost in the mix. As a salesman at heart, I have a soft spot for an underdog. When you’re reaching out to someone cold, whether that’s for a job, making sales or otherwise, you are an underdog. You’re on the back foot.

So here are four things not to do when trying to reach me or my team, to help you on your journey to building new relationships.

If you have any other tips, share them in the comments below.

1. Winging it

There are no two ways about it: you cannot wing it on a first impression. Whether it is over email, face to face, or on a call. You have to know your stuff. So, when I see a message from someone who has clearly not done their research, I can’t help but feel a level of frustration.

They have got their message in front of the person that they wanted to, unlike many others, but they’ve wasted that opportunity!

The single most important part of reaching out to someone is starting a relationship. Everyone likes to feel valued, it is human nature. However, so many messages nowadays are obviously mass sales send-outs with no personalised information. How does that make you feel when you receive it?

It’s simple. It makes you feel like you’re not valued. That is certainly not the best way to kickstart a relationship.

By contrast, receiving a message that demonstrates that you have done your research is priceless. I recently received a note that said they’d listened to an episode of Mind Your Own Business about business and sport. They were passionate about rugby and had seen we’d supported Sale Sharks for many years. They were interested in seeing how we could work together to champion the links between business and sport, and I was immediately interested.

Many of the other ‘not to dos’ in this list link directly to research, it is that important.

There is ultimately no one-size-fits-all approach to reaching out to someone, or to getting past the fabled ‘gatekeeper’ of a business, but showing you know who you want to reach and why is the absolute foundation!

2. Over chasing sales

The second mistake is rushing. Like many people, I schedule my time to run through emails and messages with my assistant. So when I receive a message and an hour later it is followed by ‘I take it you are not interested…’ there is usually a reason for the delayed response.

I try to be as responsive as possible to anyone who reaches out to me, however, no one can reply in an instant 24/7, it’s impossible! I doubt there are many business leaders who reply to every message within an hour!

With the omnipresent nature of social media, it’s also fairly easy to see what someone is up to, whether they are on holiday or at an event, which gives you further information as to when to reach out or why they may not be replying.

Rather than chasing, put your energy into finding a creative way to make your message stand out from the crowd…

3. Being run of the mill

I am certain that we could all reel off a template prospect email about who you are and why that person should buy from you. It’s old hat, it has been done before. In some instances, it works, but it is more than likely going to be lost in the mix of other messages.

When you’re trying to reach someone specific about something specific, how else could you contact them?

I have mentioned a couple of times about a woman who sent me a card in the mail. Once I posted a picture of that card on social media, she had a video ready in reply. That video was tailored to why she should work for UKFast and what value she could bring. It was beautifully produced, creative and to the point. She got the job.

4. Faking it ‘til you make it

We receive numerous calls each month from people pretending to be someone they are not, or pretending that they have had a conversation with one of our board, simply so that they can get past the ‘gatekeeper’. It is this type of behaviour that gives sales teams a bad rep!

I also wonder, how would you turn that call around? If you did get through to the person you pretended to already know, how do you then turn that conversation into a positive – they’re going to know that you were dishonest trying to reach them. Is that the best way to start a business relationship, never mind to make any sales?

Reaching the decision makers in business is not easy. However, in many businesses, it’s not the MD or CEO who you need to reach out to. It is the empowered team at the coal face who are making the difference day in day out. Don’t fall for the stereotype that you have to speak with someone at board level because in any business that employs upside-down management or the like, the director will likely to point you in the direction of someone in their team anyway!

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