You have just come back from a very successful networking evening event and you have twenty-five brand new business card leads. As you drift off to sleep, you know that tomorrow will be a really productive day. The following morning when you get to your desk you still feel great, but then it happens. You look at the new cards sitting on your desk and you feel the first twinge of uncertainty of who to call first. You begin to wonder if this is the best time to call and look for another activity to do, promising yourself you’ll get to the calls soon.
Does this story sound familiar? I know I did this in my sales career. But why? For me, I was always deciding who I wanted to connect with first instead of identifying who wanted to connect with me first. When I realized what mattered was to determine my contacts timing and not mine, a pattern emerged. I now call it Now-Later-Never.
Most sales and marketing trainings teach you to have A, B and C clients and prospects. While this can be helpful in showing you where you would want to invest your time, it doesn’t tell you the timing.
So, let’s break the NOW-LATER-NEVER system down.
A NOW connection is anyone that allows you to engage with them to potentially solve their need.
A LATER connection is anyone who sees you as a possible solution to their need, but they’re not ready to proceed now.
A NEVER connection is anyone, for whatever the reason, who will not connect with you.
You may now say “OK Gary, that’s pretty obvious. But how can I tell who is in what category?” Great question! The answer is your contact does. Many times we are just not listening. The key is to ask questions of the contact that will identify their timing. Some sample questions would be:
- Would you be open to getting together next week?
- If you found the answer to “X”, what would it mean to your business?
- When were thinking of implementing that idea?
Listen for the timing in the story they tell you.
It’s also critical to know what a NOW or LATER contact looks like for you:
- Does your personality match the contact?
- Do they have the ability to pay your fee or purchase your product?
- Are they able to make decisions?
Be clear with yourself what your perfect client looks like and you will create relationships that will last a lifetime.
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