It centers around the value of building a network of ‘raving fans’ — people who know, like and trust you.
Doing that is not only easy, but motivational as well.
Your Network IS a ‘Money Tree’
If you’re a solo-practitioner, there’s a practical limitation on the number of business relationships you can cultivate. Despite what you might like to believe, it’s difficult to maintain a quality relationship with more than a few hundred individuals.
In fact, an English researcher named Robin Dunbar did research that revealed how most people can only maintain a viable relationship with around 150 people. Thus, the ‘Dunbar Number‘ of 150 people refers to the number of people you can maintain an active relationship with over time. And, by ‘active’ I mean they’ll respond to you when you call or contact them.
If you look at the average person’s network connections on Linkedin, they probably have a few million ‘close, personal connections’. The fact is . . . most of your online ‘connections’ don’t know you exist and couldn’t pick you out of a police line-up if they had to (and why would you be in a police line-up, anyway?).
I’m not putting down social network connections. But the reality is, absent a personal effort to cultivate an awareness of you and build a position for you / your brand, you’re not likely to generate new clients from social network connections. Doubt that? OK, in the last 12 months, how many new clients did you generate who only know you from Linkedin, Facebook, Google + or the like? See. I rest my case.
What’s a Better Approach? Cultivate Your Own Network!
Again, there are very good reasons to be active on social media — especially Linkedin. But generating new revenues from people whom you have not connected with in a meaningful and ongoing way . . . is not one of them.
What is better is to identify people who are likely to buy what you offer and/or likely to refer you to others who can? In a word, ‘Cultivation’.
Cultivation is a KEY Function for Growing Your Clientele
Cultivation is one of the six (6) key client-development functions you must engage in or you’ll be relegated to making cold calls for the rest of your career. These are:
Fueling . . . generating introductions to people who MAY be able to buy or refer you
Qualifying . . . learning if someone can buy and/or refer you to others who can
Cultivating . . . building top-of-mind awareness and preference for the brand called Y-O-U
Converting . . . helping someone make a decision to act on your recommendations
Servicing . . . keeping someone happy to work with and spend money with you
Managing . . . operating your practice in a way that consistently exceeds clients’ expectations
Once you’ve found someone who’s able to buy what you offer and/or refer you to other people who can, you’ll want to cultivate a relationship with them. This helps you build the ‘know, like and trust’ factor you need to be thought of first and favorably when (not if) a need arises for your problem-solving expertise, services and products.
To keep this function simple, all you want to do is keep-in-touch and top-of-mind with your qualified people. Reconnecting with them to remind them you exist . . . with relevance, respect and regularity . . . is all you need to do.
This calls for a very simple ‘plan’. For example, you can build a Cultivation Plan using any or all of the following means of keeping-in-touch and top-of-mind with your ‘qualified’ connections:
1. a newsletter
2. a personal, handwritten note of appreciation
3. a phone call to ‘touch base’
4. a ‘Thinking of You’ email with a link to an article of relevance to your contact
5. an invitation to reconnect over lunch or coffee with 2 other people-of-interest
6. an introduction to a person of interest or value
7. a referral to someone you know who might do business with your contact
8. an item-of-value that your contact would likely appreciate receiving
You don’t have to incorporate all these different activities. Nor do you need to do them each month. But you do need to choose some of them and use them consistently and conscientiously.
Why 240 People . . . Is Your Magic Number
Earlier, I said it’s not practical to attempt to cultivate more than 150 – 250 people on a regular basis. But if you do cultivate 240 people, you’ll see a lot of opportunities to generate clients, revenues and referrals. Here’s how . . .
Let’s say your Cultivation Plan requires you to call your people once a quarter. That means you’ll be calling, on average, 1/3 of all your contacts being cultivated, each month. (If you want to know why, call me — 860-798-6964).
If you’re cultivating 240 people, you’re re-calling 80 people a month. Unfortunately, between your schedule and theirs you aren’t going to reach 50% of them. No problem. They’ll remain in your cultivation system and you’ll continue to cultivate them as your plan suggests. Yes, you’ll call them again in another 90 days. So you’re down to 40 people.
Of the 40 people you do reach, expect that around 50% will thank you for calling but they’re not going to have a need you can address or know someone they can refer you to meet. It’s OK. They go back into the cultivation pool as well.
Now you’re down to roughly 20 people. A couple are likely to tell you, “Let’s stop”. They (or, you) will decide that they’ll never buy from or refer to you. It’s over. It’s OK. You’ll live. You remove them from your cultivation system and make room for new, more viable contacts to go into it. It all works out in the end.
Of the remaining people you do reach, you’ll either find a reason to meet or you’ll generate some referrals to people they know who fits the profile of the kind of person who can best understand, value, desire and afford your services. It’s all good.
Now remember, these are WARM calls . . . to people who know, like and trust you. Each one is growing steadily closer to the next time they need to buy what you do — lifetime value of a client, remember?
So how many discussions do you need to generate an open case? How many open cases can you turn into a decision meeting? How many decision meetings do you need to close a single sale? What’s your average sale look like?
Now, do you see why you want to cultivate qualified people? It reinforces your relationship with key people for your practice, it makes your life easier, your revenues greater and, best of all, more predictable, too.
Cultivating Key Relationships . . . helps generate revenues easily, predictably and significantly
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