Centers of Influence
The Beatles Said It Best
What sales and management wisdom could the Beatles possibly impart to us? It’s quite simple really. John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote a song titled, “With a Little Help From My Friends.” Ringo Starr was the lead vocalist. We could all use a little help now and then, but in sales and sales management, our success may depend upon it. I’m speaking of course about the need to work with a good number of Centers of Influence or Nominators. These people represent a way you can multiply yourself. They are your extra eyes and ears in the community looking for ways to be of help to you. They help by connecting you with people you do not now know, but would like to know. Whether you are looking for potential sales reps or qualified prospects that need your financial planning help, Centers and Nominators can be of great value.
Of course, you already know this. So why aren’t more producers and managers taking maximum advantage of this wonderful resource? In my coaching practice, I hear and see many reasons, but one surfaces more than others; while they intellectually like the idea of using Centers, they haven’t made a 100% commitment to doing what needs to be done. This involves devoting quality time, effort and practice. Sometimes lack of knowledge on how to go about finding and using nominators is also a reason that prevents sales people and managers from taping into this business accelerating resource. Here’s a quick outline of a six step process you can follow.
Step 1 - Develop Your List of Likely Sources
Consider the different circles of influence you are involved with in your life. These circles consist of close friends and relatives, people you do business with both personally and professionally (attorney, accountant, banker, real estate agent, religious leader, doctor, dentist, teacher, etc), and your social contacts and civic organizations you know of or belong to (service organizations, business clubs, chambers of commerce, professional organizations).
Step 2 - Create a List
Using the memory joggers from step 1, create a list of names with known contact information. Create a spreadsheet so you can keep track of your progress. Don’t prejudge. Create as large a list of potential Centers and Nominators as possible. Remember the six degrees of separation theory that you’re only six contacts away from finding out anything we need to know.
Step 3 - Make That Phone Call
Attempt to schedule a 30-45minute appointment with everyone on your list. Prepare for call by first writing out a script of what you are going to say. It should include who you are, the purpose of the call, your request for help, and what you hope to accomplish when you meet with them. Then practice saying it until it sounds natural and you are comfortable that it sounds “like you.”
Step 4 - Prepare for the Appointment
Just as you have prepared a phone script to obtain the appointment, prepare a similar script or agenda for the face to face meeting. Think through what you want to accomplish at the meeting and what information or materials you need to bring with you. Also give some thought as to what’s in it for the Nominator and be prepared to share those reasons with them.
Step 5 - Conduct the Meeting
Thank the Nominator for taking the time to meet with you. Show interest in them and get to know them better. Explain the purpose of the meeting and how they can help. Be prepared to answer any objections they may have. Some people are uncomfortable referring you to others until they first have confidence in you and understand how you will approach the people they suggest. Be prepared to review how you will use their name and the process you will use to contact their referral. Promise your nominator that you will keep them updated on your progress with their referral.
During the meeting you may want to share a memory jogger of the type of people you are looking to meet. Create a list you can hand to them. It should contain as many categories as possible. The list often starts with the statement, “Who do you know who…” Don’t forget to ask them for other people they know who might also be excellent Centers of Influence.
Step 6 - Make Contact As Soon As Possible
To honor the trust and faith the Nominator has placed in you, contact their referral as soon as possible. Develop a sense of urgency. Don’t overlook the possibility that the referral might also be able to refer you to other referrals or other Nominators.
Step 7 - Follow Up
Get back to the Nominator as soon as you have something to report on the outcome of your efforts with their referrals. Keep in touch with your Centers on a regular basis. You may want to consider adding them to your newsletter, bulletin, or other appropriate distribution list.
You can’t do it all alone. Enlist the help of others who buy into your Vision and Mission and soon you’ll be singing, “I get by with a little help from my friends.”
Good luck on your journey to success.