During a sales management training session at an in-house national conference, with the participants being managers from all across Australia, I gave them a 2-minute break and asked them to get up and talk amongst themselves.
When we resumed I asked how many of them made a point of meeting someone they didn’t know.
One lonely hand went up in the air. Only one!
This was particularly important as the conference workshop was about building effective business relationships. And many participants had not previously met each other.
The moral of the exercise was that we naturally gravitate towards people we know and like. And it is easy to stick with our current network of clients, colleagues and industry contacts.
It can get scary when we have to meet new people.
But, from a sales and business development perspective, it is extremely selfish when we are not brave enough too reach out to people we don’t know.
It is selfish for us to avoid engaging with people with whom we may be able to develop a mutually beneficial relationship.
I have spoken with many clients and training delegates who are reluctant to meet new people.
They feel a bit awkward and unsure of themselves.
Does that sound like you too?
In many cases this reluctance is based on self-centred feelings such as:
- They wont like me.
- I wont know what to say.
- I’m no good at small talk.
- My business in new, and I’ll look like a beginner.
- They will think I am boring.
- It feels weird talking to a stranger.
- They all seem to know each other. I’ll be the odd one out.
It is ironic that most people feel the same way, and could easily comfort each other. Yet everyone keeps to the ‘safe’ relationships they already know.
So, in our efforts to stay within our comfort zone we act selfishly and do not fully explore new opportunities.
This can be the ‘kiss of death’ for an expertise-based business.
Meeting new people, and communicating the knowledge, skills and capabilities of the business is essential for the future success of the organisation.
By meeting – and fully engaging – with new people (prospects, industry partners, or referral sources) we open the doors to:
- Learning about other businesses.
- Learning about new opportunities for us.
- Learning how others achieve their goals.
- Learning how ‘not’ to do something.
- Learning what ‘to’ do from those who are more experienced.
- Learning that we can cope with expanding our comfort zone.
- Learning how to be more successful.
One of the greatest challenges for service providers, professionals, business owners, and people new to sales is to have the confidence to strike up new relationships.
The tools you will need to beat the fear of meeting new people include:
- Active listening skills.
- Flexibility and patience.
- A true interest in the diversity of other people.
- A good dose of self-awareness, to control your natural communication urges.
- A well rehearsed self-introduction; elevator pitch; 30-second introduction; or, audio logo (whichever you prefer to call it).
- Acceptable social etiquette skills.
- The discipline to ensure you follow up after the initial contact.
For those who muster the courage, and learn the necessary skills, a whole new world of possibilities and success awaits you.