Leaving a networking event last week, I got talking to someone I had met earlier in the evening. She is President of a women’s association here in Brisbane, and when I asked if she’d had a good night she replied that it had been very productive, as she had managed to secure some sponsorship and prizes for one of her own upcoming events.
When I said well done, that’s impressive that you managed to get so much out of one conversation she said simply “Oh I’m not done yet, there’s lots more where that came from!”
Helping women with business development I’ve seen a common theme – many women don’t ask for the business, mainly because they don’t know how to, or they feel uncomfortable in being too “salesy”.
The time-honoured adage of “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” very much applies here. At some point, if business is to be done, you simply have to ask for it!
How you go about doing that will depend on the specific set of circumstances, however here are some pointers to help you get more confident asking for business:
- If it’s a business meeting, you can be assured that the person across the table from you knows that you are there to do just that – business. Very few people have time in their busy schedule just to have a “catch-up”.
- The more specific you are about what you want to achieve, the more likely you are to achieve it. Don’t beat around the bush – be clear about your objectives for every business development meeting you have. I suggest to my clients that they take control of the meeting. To do this, at the outset say something like:
“I’m really pleased to meet you again Carol – last time I learnt a lot about the particular challenges your sales team are having. I thought we’d take this opportunity to find out how that’s impacting other parts of the business, and you personally, and throw around some ideas as to how we might be able to work together to solve those issues. What else would you find beneficial for us to cover today?”
That way you have set a clear criteria for what you want to achieve, while allowing them their say too. Win-win.
- At the start of every relationship, business or otherwise, it takes time to develop rapport. Don’t rush right in and ask for the business. Take time to really get to know the other person and the issues/problems they face in their business that you can help solve.
- Equally, don’t have countless coffee meetings and never get to the point.
- Make it clear that you value their business and they are not just another notch on your monthly sales dashboard. Tell them WHY you want to do business with them. For example, I only do work with organisations where I believe in the brand and what they are doing for their employees. I tell prospective clients that, as well as making clear that I want to be in it for the long term and am looking for partnership, rather than a transaction.
The more you get accustomed to asking for the business the easier it gets. At the end of the day, it’s really a game. While it’s important to take it seriously, it’s just as important to have fun with it. And if someone says no, there’s always tomorrow and another prospective client who is right there waiting for you, and who is RIGHT for YOU.
PS If you want to learn more about the game of business development, you need to talk to me about the Women of Influence program which is for women who are in the business of getting business. Click here to book a time to talk to me about it.