Dr. Misner has been communicating with BNI regions around the world via webcam. Contact bni[at]bni[dot]com if you want him to participate in one of your events.
This week’s podcast focuses on one of the golden rules of networking: staying in touch with your clients. Here are the six steps to success.
- Spread out your contacts, but keep them consistent.
- Schedule predictably: train your clients to expect to hear from you at certain times.
- Make each contact lead to the next. Schedule the date for your next contact before you conclude the meeting.
- Assume responsibility for making contact. Take the initiative.
- Invite clients to networking events.
- Create a plan and stick to it. Follow the system even if your client contacts you in between scheduled contacts.
Remember, the goal is not to sell something every time you call, but to check in and find out what’s working and how you can help.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 071 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by networkingnow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice coming from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley California. I am joined by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hi Ivan. How are you?
I am doing great, Priscilla. I just got off the phone before I called in for the podcast with Australia. I did a live webcast for our BNI members in Australia — which by the way, I put out to all BNI members worldwide. It’s difficult to go visit every region every year. And if you noticed, it’s difficult to visit every region every year. If I visited a different region of BNI every other week, a region not chapter entire region, it would take 12 years to visit them all. It’s hard to get out there but for the webcam — I love technology. It enables me to do things like this. I just did a live webcast with Australia. I am back in BNI headquarters. I had a webcam here and they had a camera there. I could see the audience there and have live interaction with them.
For you members are BNI directors listening to this podcast contact your local BNI director to find out what it will take to do a webcast and have your director contact my office for me to do a webcast in your region. They can reach us at [email protected] We would love to do a live webcast for a big event that you have there if at all possible.
That sounds great. But what are you going to talk to us today?
I am going to talk about one of the golden rules networking. That is stay in touch with your clients. There are six steps I’m going to give that are pretty straightforward. I think that most businesses understand that they thrive on getting new business in. Once you get business and make the sale, what then? You have to have touch points not only with potential customers but particularly with your existing customers, clients or patients. I wanted to get just a few ideas on things that you can do to stay in touch regularly with your customers. There are six.
The first is to spread out your contacts. Regardless of the type of relationship with your clients, regular contact is really good. Either short phone meetings or in-person meetings depending on what kind business you are in and whether most of your clients are local or not. Each meeting that you have becomes an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and enhance your visibility and recognition. Spread those contacts out but keep them consistent. One of the best- his company is a BNI member. He is going to be surprised that I say this on this podcast. One of the best BNI members who has been doing business with me – his name is Dave Getts. He is with Customzines, the company that does our newsletter. He is a master at regular contact. He spreads it out with email. He does a little email. He does cards. He always has thank you cards that are personally handwritten and then phone calls from time to time. He is in Chicago. I am in the LA area. Whenever he’s in LA, he sets up an appointment. He spreads it out so it’s not all at one time. He is really consistent at it. It’s that kind of thing that helps maintain a relationship.
Can I just ask a quick question? What he contacts you is it just social, or how does he approach you and how much time to spend with you?
That’s a great question. You deal differently with different people and different behavioral profiles. I’m a high D, very assertive person. I have a lot of things going on. I have several companies and several businesses. I’m always pretty busy. So he never wastes my time. He understands who he is working with. When he contacts me, he’ll chit chat always a little. He is really good but he gets right to the point. Usually it is rare that he is asking for more business. It’s usually how are things going? Everything going well? Just wanted to touch base. Here is something you might be interested in reading. Occasionally, he might say here is a new service that we have. I know when he calls or sends an email to me that he is not going to waste my time. He keeps it very professional.
My guess is depending on who he is talking to, he will change it up a little bit. Some people want more of that social interaction and have time for it. Some don’t. I am guessing he probably changes it up a little bit depending on who is he talking to.
Even thought he doesn’t have anything particular that he wants to talk to you about specifically, he just asks how everything is going.
Yes almost always. Everything going alright? Here’s something that he always says, which I am always impressed about. In everything, especially his handwritten notes, he says, “I really appreciate your business. You are an important client to me.” He says that in all of his correspondence. I am very impressed. If more people did that, they would keep their clients longer. We’ve been doing business with him for probably almost a decade. Nine years.
Now let me jump into the other six. The second is to schedule a predictably, stay in touch with your clients regularly. Train them to expect to hear from you at certain times. Depending on business, there may be certain times of the year that it would be important to call. For example, if you contact the customer during the first week of every quarter, they will come to expect it and they will budget the time for you. A financial planner of mine does that. Once a quarter, he calls my office and sets up a time to come in and show me the financials for the investments that I’ve got. He’s a BNI member by the way, a founding member of the first chapter of BNI, Mike Ryan. He’s still a member today after 29 years. He contacts schedules very predictably.
Third, make each contact lead to the next. Before concluding a meeting or a telephone conversation whenever possible — do this every time especially if it’s a face-to-face meeting — schedule a date for your next contact. In written correspondence, close by stating when a customer or client might expect to hear from you again. It might be something like I’ll send you a note or even e-mail by the end of the month, at the end of the quarter, (etc.). Having made a commitment, you’re more likely to follow through and the client is now expecting it. I think that is very positive especially if you’re not just asking for new business every time you contact them. I used to have a stockbroker that I knew the only time he called me was when he wanted to sell me another stock. It’s not a good idea. It’s good to have some other reasons for contacting your client other than buy more.
Four, assert responsibility for making contact. You can’t control whether clients will contact you but you can’t control whether you contact them. Take the initiative and stay in touch with their customers. This is especially important for your most important clients. When clients or customers don’t feel like they’re cared for, they’re more likely to try someone else. By staying in touch with them, you’re more likely to head off potential problems down the road.
Five, invite them to networking events. One way to make sure to stay in contact with your customers is to invite them to select networking events. Invite them to BNI. Invite them to a local Chamber of Commerce. Invite them into a service club. This is a great way to meet with them periodically while you’re getting out of your cave. You know, most networkers are cave dwellers and they keep bouncing back from their office cave to their home cave. Basically you’ve got network and at the same time you’re staying in touch with your best clients; it’s a very powerful technique to employ.
The last one, create a plan and stick to it. As you achieve a level of success in establishing routines with your sources, some of them may begin to take initiative in the contact. If you’re doing it consistently, they are more likely to connect with you. Don’t let that interfere with your contact schedule. That is, if you’re going to be contacting them quarterly but maybe they call you in the middle that, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to call them that quarter. You should still maintain a consistent contact. Don’t let their contact with you interfere with your schedule. Have a system and follow the system. I see some great results. Those are the six steps I recommend staying in touch with your clients. These are touch points that will help you succeed and maintaining relationships with the clients you contact.
What if you’re a shy person and you feel like you don’t want to be too pushy? Is there something you could say to that?
That’s a great question to ask. I think you have to remember that the goal is not to sell something to someone every time you call them. Remember just said the only time I stockbroker would call what he wanted to sell something? The goal would be to ask how are things doing? Is everything okay? Are you satisfied with the service? How did this go or how did that go? You don’t want to just to be general. Are you happy? I’m not looking for that.
Let’s go back to Dave and Customzines. Sometimes he will contact me or one of his people — the woman who really runs or newsletter, her name is Bernice. She goes by Bernie. She contacts me to say. “Here is this month’s issue. Would you like to look it over? Do you have some things to add?” Just some very specific questions that are asked. “Here are the metrics for this month… This is what I discovered… By doing this, we found that…” It’s just regular contact asking specific questions and getting specific responses that maintains a contact which is powerful. Don’t just ask for the sale. Just make sure that what you’re doing is working. Here is the bottom line. How can I help you? What can I continue to do to help the service work for you? There are a few things I have in mind. Introverts can do that just as easily as extroverts because they’re not trying to sell them. They’re trying to help them.
Right. I think if you come up with very specific questions, then it’s a mute point. It’s easy to do that. Okay. I think we may have used up all of our time.
Thank you Dr. Misner. I just want to remind our listeners to this podcast has been brought to you by networking now.com. It’s a leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thanks so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you’ll join us next week for another exciting episode of the official BNI Podcast