Someone at a chamber of commerce event asks you, “Who can I introduce you to?” What a great way to start building a relationship. But… Do you have a good answer?
“Who can I introduce you to?”
Classic question, and if you’re a top-notch networker, it’s part of your repertoire.
It’s actually a pretty low-effort, high-reward offer to someone, if you think about it.
To the person you’re talking to, it feels like (and is) a genuine offer of providing access to your network, which can be invaluable.
And, I’ve found that most people who say it, are actually the type to follow through and make referrals where they can.
But here’s why it’s low-effort…
It’s astonishing how many people don’t have a reliable answer to that question.
Sure, every business person can generalize something, but far and away the most prominent answer seems to be “decision-makers.”
We hear it regularly (because we’re listening specifically for it).
Here’s the challenge with that answer: As a person wanting to help you expand your network, make sales or grow your company, I can’t do anything with it.
Because… Most people any of us run into, whether they’re actually in sales, an entrepreneur looking to grow or fundraising for a cause wants to meet decision-makers.
It doesn’t help me narrow the list down, to make a meaningful introduction for you.
Let’s talk about why that’s important…
The Realities of Referrals
Referrals are great. When they work.
And, for the purpose of this blog, I’m not talking about referrals with compensation – i.e. “I’ll give you ten percent of anything you sell for me” (which have their own limitations).
No, I’m talking straight-up about two professionals looking to help each other for the purpose of creating mutual value.
The thing is, people are busy.
Even the most well-meaning people don’t necessarily have time to divert the things they need to get done on a daily basis to keep an eye out for opportunities for you.
Which is why good referral relationships don’t come along every day, and should be nurtured heavily when you find them.
They will try, but you must understand that their #1 priority is not funneling you referrals.
They will keep your name and your services in the back of their head as they network, themselves, but given the choice between taking an action for themselves or for you – whether it’s making a phone call, providing a referral or steering a conversation – they’re going to put food on their own table first.
That’s not a knock on anyone who’s trying.
As I said, when someone asks me who they can introduce me to, I almost exclusively trust that they mean it.
So, what does this mean?
It means that if you are dealing with busy people who give you an offer to help, it is imperative that you make helping you as absolutely easy as possible.
And, it’s not about your messaging, or your “elevator pitch”… They’re not going to carry that around for you (did you ever have someone give you a stack of their flyers “in case you need them”?).
They’re not your sales team. That’s asking WAY too much.
No, it’s about the logistics of delivering for you.
It’s two simple things: Who do you need to meet, and what buzzwords should I be looking for?
If you can send them away with that information, it will increase the chances they might be able to help you exponentially.
Let’s get back to this rote, cliché response…
Simply put – you have to do better.
Out of anyone on the planet, no one is going to know your “perfect” customer – who your products and services help best – better than you.
When someone asks you who they can introduce you to, THAT’s who you’re going for.
THAT’s what you want to tell them.
You’re out networking, looking for the company or individual where your products or services are a perfect fit to solve their problems.
That could be specific targets, or groups of targets.
It could be an industry, company size, a geographic location, interest group, affiliation, or any other criteria that is at least somewhat recognizable just by knowing the landscape.
How do you get this criteria? You look at your best, longest-running, happiest, current customers.
Companies just like those are your perfect prospects.
If someone offers you access to their network for referrals… That’s who you want them looking for on your behalf.
Be as specific as possible – even use your current client list.
“Three of my clients are ABC Company, DEF Industries and GHI Corporation. If I could find another company just like them, I’ll be set.”
Or, “Our services really work well for small-to-mid-sized accounting firms that probably don’t have what we do in-house.”
Stay away from trying to have your referral partner identify the problem for you… I’ve heard too often things like, “I’m looking for small businesses struggling with ever-changing HR regulations.”
You see? There’s no way someone’s going to be able to easily make that connection for you, within their own daily business.
Make it succinct, make it sharp, and make it easy for them to take it to their network.
It’s Not Just for the Chamber of Commerce… You Should Have this Anyway
The question that always comes up in my mind when I hear someone answer with, “decision makers,” is, how do you not know?
Your target audience is used for so many things beyond referral business – things that require spending of time and financial resources.
Understanding who your perfect prospect is should be an essential component of your business development plan, to ensure that you’re spending your team’s time, and your marketing investments, wisely.
Put it in these terms, relevant to what we were just talking about… Think of someone who offers you access to their network as a currency.
You don’t want to waste that opportunity, so, if you’re following our advice, you plan and prepare to ensure that you make the most of it.
Let’s hope that you’re doing the same the rest of the time.
Whether it’s making a marketing spend, or simply sending your sales team out to find new business, you want to be doing it in the smartest possible way – and that’s by targeting the companies or individuals, again, for whom your products and services work best.
If you’ve done social media marketing, you’ve seen targeting tools in action.
The level of detail that you can get into when setting up your ad spends on the various social media platforms is kinda crazy.
Here’s just a quick screenshot of Facebook’s targeting capabilities – just a small segment of it:
But think about how much time you spend creating the perfect targeting list, that’s going to cost you 12 cents every time Facebook shows your ad to someone.
How are you arming your sales team, at a significantly higher cost, to go out and find your perfect prospects?
Good Strategy Leads to Good Data Leads to Good Results
As anyone who follows our blog knows, Momentum has partnered with a “Big Data” analytics firm, rel8ted.to Analytics, in a collaboration that has yielded many outcomes, the foremost of which is the Diligence Leads for Associations program.
Rel8ted.to is at the epicenter of lead targeting, at a time when we would argue it’s at its most important.
The combination of people being exceptionally busy with so much noise in the marketplace has made putting your value directly in front of the people who can best use it critical for your growth.
Add to that a new generation of salespeople who do things very differently than previously, often opting to rely on technology over personal outreach, and there’s a perfect storm of difficulty in getting your story out there.
Now, yes, there are industries where “casting a wide net” has always been a viable strategy.
Everyone needs insurance, or real estate, or attorneys.
But, I would argue that even those industries, that give their salespeople goals of handing out as many business cards as humanly possible, can identify their best clients among their clients.
Could be the biggest buyers. Could be customers that continually buy your high-margin products and services. Or, who wouldn’t want to grab all of the business in a single office park?
This is where rel8ted.to and the Diligence Leads program specializes – in creating prospecting lists that mirror your absolute best clients.
With these tools at the center of your prospecting strategy, your company’s money, and your team’s time, will be better spent.
In the end, what’s going to be a better experience for your sales team? A smattering of clients who you’ve sold on your services and constantly need to be reminded of why, or a stable of awesome clients who are loyal to you and sing your praises because you’ve found a perfect match?
Chamber of Commerce Member Value Workshop – Dragging It Out of Them
So, how do you figure it all out?
Well, it’s worth taking some time to do so.
And, it’s worth having someone push you to make it happen.
One of the services that we provide at Momentum is called the “Member Value Workshop” for chambers of commerce.
In this session, we work with 10-12 companies who are members of a chamber, and we basically run them through what is Momentum’s onboarding process for new clients (further down we’ll talk about how all of this fits into what we do).
The goal is to create a chamber of commerce spending (money and time) strategy for each company in the room, that they can then work with the chamber team to implement, making sure they get their money’s worth throughout the year.
We start with identifying goals, but the second question I walk participants through is, “Who do you need to meet?”
The cool thing is, instead of a one-on-one conversation, you’re sitting in a room of your peers, and want to be impressive, at best, confident, at worst.
Not only that, you’re sitting in a room of your peers, who can become viable referral resources for you.
Do you think anyone in that room is able to get away with simply saying, “decision makers”?
I liken it to high school Spanish class on a day when you might not have finished all the exercises that day.
You either hope you don’t get called on, or you prepare a good answer on the spot, so if you ARE called on, you have something to say in front of everyone.
I believe this little exercise gets people to fine tune their response, before telling the group – hopefully with lasting impact.
Hunting Your Perfect Prospects Down at your Chamber of Commerce
Obviously, we’re all in on building momentum with your chambers of commerce and other business associations.
In fact, we believe that with a fine-tuned prospecting target list, there is no better way to get to the people and companies on it.
With a little research, you can find exactly where your best prospects hang out, and then it becomes a matter of finding the best way to connect with them.
We believe this so much, that we worked with rel8ted.to to create a service that we call the Momentum Chamberizer.
Through the Chamberizer, in a number of markets that we work in, you can search for a company, and our data will tell you what organizations that company belongs to.
So, when you’re putting together your strategy for your association investment, you can do so with some intel as to where you’re going to have the best chance of running into your top prospects at an event.
Or, even better, you can often strategically spend your way directly into introductions – many chambers offer direct intros as part of their membership packages (check out the Columbus Chamber’s membership benefits, which are very well laid out).
At Momentum, we do this for you.
We work with your target list, if you have one (and you should), to hunt down the companies that are the best fit for you, and put you near them, so your sales team can do what they do best.
We encourage our clients to build their list like this:
- 5 whales – will be lots of business, sustaining clients, perhaps with longer sales cycles
- 25 companies to chase (the best of the best fit)
- 150 companies that could graduate to the next tier
With a list like this, we can optimize their chamber spend and go to work for them.
Are we giving away the secret sauce here?
Maybe a little.
But, we do know that the majority of companies out there don’t have anyone in-house doing this for them.
And we’ve already built the relationships with the organizations to get a strategy up-and-running on day one.
Can companies do all of this on their own?
Of course, and they should be!
But, we’re around for those who need someone waking up every day with this purpose top-of-mind.
Practice What We Preach
So, who’s our perfect prospect?
While we work with billion-dollar multi-national companies all the way down to one-person start-ups, our sweet spot is fast-growing companies in niche industries (requiring technical or regulatory expertise) that don’t have in-house marketing personnel yet, but know they’ll need it soon.
Our buzz phrase that we ask people to listen for? “We joined the chamber, but aren’t getting anything out of it.”
Because we know we can fix that problem, almost immediately.
Want to strengthen your business development strategy by getting past “decision makers” targeting?
Schedule a 15-minute Zoom call with us, and we’ll show you how our clients do it.