Think of the last time you attended a networking event. What happened? Did you go home with your appointment book overflowing with appointments, or with a pile of new cards in your pocket? Most people leave a networking event with a pile of cards rather than appointments set for the upcoming weeks. There are some simple steps you can take to turn warm contacts into closed sales.
Before I share those steps with you, I’d like to share some thoughts on what not to do at a networking event. First, remember that you are not selling. Instead, you are making new connections to determine whether or not you can help them. Second, don’t just hand your card to everyone you meet and take theirs. Instead, have a meaningful conversation first and then decide whether or not to take it further.
The following steps will help you move from a warm connection at a networking event to a closed sale:
1. Be Clear on your Target Client
Have you ever had the experience of being in front of a prospect and feeling your stomach turn upside down? Or, even months into the relationship with your client, you can just feel that something isn’t right and looking back you knew there were red flags? The key is to be clear on your Target Client. An easy way to gain clarity is to think about the attributes of your favorite client. Are they coachable? Do they see you as the expert? Whatever their attributes, it will help you gain clarity about the other clients you’d most like to work with.
2. Set your Intention and be Prepared
Unfortunately, most people are not prepared when they show up at a networking event. Ask yourself, “Why am I here and what is my intention?” You’d be surprised what can happen when your intention is clear-it’s amazing who will just “show up”! Also, make sure you bring your Ideal Schedule. Your Ideal schedule is based on your monthly stretch goal and allows you to calculate the amount of appointments you need on a weekly and monthly basis to reach your goal. For example, if your monthly stretch goal is $10,000.00, your average sale is $1,000.00 and your closing ration is 50%, then you would need 20 appointments per month to reach your monthly stretch goal.
3. Connect with Intention
Once you begin mingling, remember to BE YOURSELF. Be genuine and introduce yourself and any guests you might be with. If you are connecting one on one with someone, imagine there is a bubble surrounding the two of you and give that person your full attention while maintaining appropriate eye contact. While focusing your attention 100% on them, ask questions and don’t wait for them to ask you. You can simply begin by asking them what they do and then move into more focused questions about their products, services and target clients. We all love talking about ourselves, so your new contact will most likely enjoy sharing with someone who is really listening!
4. Ask for the Appointment if Appropriate
If there is interest, then say, “Look, I’d love to chat with you more here, but let’s set some time aside over a cup of coffee so I can learn more about what you do and whether or not I can even solve your problem (or help you). If I can, great, if I can’t, I will refer you to someone else.” Then, pull out your calendar and offer them the times you are available to they can choose the time that works best for them. This is an excellent use of your time and ensures that you are moving toward your monthly sales stretch goal.
5. Close the Sale
Once you have an appointment on the books, the next step is to close the sale. Closing the sale can be easy when you are clear on the problem that you solve for your clients. I recommend that you arrive at your appointment with a list of at least ten questions that you can ask your prospect. Those ten questions should allow you to determine whether or not you really can help the person you are meeting with. If it is clear that you can help them, then you can simply offer two or three solutions that you recommend and ask them which one will be the best fit or will solve their problem. When you make it 100% about your prospect, you will win no matter what-even if you refer them to someone else.
Action Item: Look at your calendar. When is your next networking event scheduled? Commit to setting your intention ahead of time and bring your Ideal Schedule with you!
Before you arrive at your next networking event, be clear on your intention and whom you would like to meet. If you are attending with someone else, share your intentions with them and ask what theirs is as well. Then, follow the rest of the steps above and you will begin to turn warm connections into closed sales!
To Your Sales Success,