The 2 Minute Contact Rule
For those of you in marketing, what I learned in my years can be reduced to a few simple principles. One of these simple principles is something I will spend the next two minutes explaining to you — it is called, the two minute contact rule.
If you are prospecting for new clients or calling existing clients, contractors, subcontractors, or people you work with, the rule still applies. Business is about relationships, and the key to relationships is mastering the stages of a relationship. You get to know someone, you consider working with someone, you start work with someone, you develop your working relationship, and then from there it either ends or it blossoms!
As a general rule it is good to make quick regular contacts with people you work with. It strengthens your relationship with them regardless of who they are. You will be in the front of people’s minds if you keep in regular contact. They will be more likely to want to work with you, and they will be likely to do better work for you too.
If you are prospecting for new clients, the most important thing is NOT to make a sale right away. It is hard to sell to a stranger, so the first hurdle is to make the stranger an acquaintance, and one who likes you. It is good to make a quick contact with a decision maker. Be nice and be positive. Let them know that you are there to help and listen to what they have to say about their needs. Nobody likes a pushy salesperson with a deal they want to push down your throat. Never be pushy! Be gentle, friendly, and prove to them through knowledge (not force) what a helpful asset you can be to them. Your first call to a prospect could be as little as two minutes where you introduce yourself and your company, and what you could offer them. It is not even about price or availability at that point. The point is people connecting with people — it is powerful and it is effective for future sales. The fact that they have gotten to know you a little, and that you were pleasant and helpful makes you 100 times as likely to get a deal out of them than some other clown (not that you are a clown).
Calling those who you work with
If you hire people, or work in conjunction with others, it is great to make a two minute call from time to time. It is a little like throwing another little stick on the fire. It keeps the fire going, and momentum is everything in relationships and business. You can just say hi, and bring up one or two quick points in a casual way. If you live in India, many of you need to learn to be more casual in your business relationships — being uptight just isn’t pleasant for others (at least not by my standards). The people who you work with will work better with you as a result of your quick call. They might work more efficiently for you or put in more hours just because they are thinking more about you, and thinking in a positive way.
Calling existing clients
People who succeed in business do so generally by having many long term clients. Building momentum and trust is everything. Giving your existing clients a quick call is a wonderful thing to do. I do this all the time. They might have questions which they never thought to email you about. Your call will stimulate these questions, and thoughts about purchasing more. I notice that when I contact several hundred people in a two day period with quick calls, there will be many new sales as a result of these quick talks. Not everyone buys something, as a matter of fact, relatively few purchase anything as a result of the call — at least right away. But, a few will make a purchase within 72 hours, and then others in a week or two, and a residual sale or two will pop up a few months later as a result of your quick calls. If I put a dollar or rupee value on these quick calls, it might be worth $200 or more per hour to me in the long run. That is a lot of money by my standards!
What to talk about?
In a quick call, you could ask the other person if they have any questions. Or, you could ask a few quick questions, or quick discussion topics. You could also make quick pointers or customized suggestions for a client. NEVER make general suggestions, because it can turn people off. It shows that you care and are paying attention if you offer suggestions that are taylor made for the individual you are talking to, and this applies to emails to. If you segment your email blasts to target companies with similar needs, then you are sending companies information that is particular to them which they are very likely to appreciate!
Let bygones be bygones?
On the other hand, it is part of efficient management technique to know when NOT to contact someone. If a relationship proves to be fruitless, you need to know how to identify how fruitless it is in order to stop all contact. Don’t waste your time contacting companies or individuals who are just not worth it. Become an expert at assessing other people’s worth — and don’t listen to those religious types who say, “Judge Not” — that doesn’t apply to business. Judge! And judge effectively!
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