by Dr. Ivan Misner & Lee Abraham
Walk up to a stranger, introduce yourself and dive right into your best sales pitch for the product or service your business provides. Now try to close the deal. That’s right. No time for research or due diligence, just ask for a leap of faith to do business right then and there.
I see you shaking your head and frowning. Hey, we both know it’s not going to happen. OK, let me rephrase that. Yes, one in 500 might do business with you, but unless you are selling food to the hungry or trinkets to a tourist, it’s going to take a little time to seal the deal.
Generally speaking, people don’t take kindly to a sales pitch from a stranger. Call it “Invisibility.” There are way too many choices for consumers in our wired up world of information to do business with someone we know nothing about.
Bottom line: business is all about relationships. The deeper the better. And it doesn’t matter what type of business you are in. Your networks for information, support, and referrals will drive your success, and those networks are based on your relationships with other individuals and businesses.
Money Making Relationships
Power Team networking develops deeper and stronger relationships by focusing on a mutual benefit for both parties: making money!
And there are many different types of relationships involved. Among the most important are those with your Power Team partners or “Bragging Buddies,” as well as with prospects these referral sources bring you, and with customers you recruit from the prospects.
Obviously, relationships don’t just appear from invisibility, they must be nurtured. As they grow, fed by mutual trust and shared benefits, relationships evolve through three phases: visibility, credibility, and profitability. We call this evolution the VCP Process®.
Any successful relationship, whether a personal or a business relationship, is unique to every pair of individuals, and it evolves over time. It starts out tentative, fragile, full of unfulfilled possibilities and expectations. It grows stronger with experience and familiarity. It matures into trust and commitment.
The VCP Process® describes the process of creation, growth, and strengthening of business, professional, and personal relationships; it is useful for assessing the status of a relationship and where it fits in the process of getting referrals. It can be used to nurture the growth of an effective and rewarding relationship with a prospective friend, client, co-worker, vendor, colleague, or family member. When fully realized, such a relationship is mutually rewarding and thus self-perpetuating.
The first phase of growing a relationship is visibility: you and another individual become aware of each other. In business terms, a potential source of referrals or a potential customer becomes aware of the nature of your business – perhaps because of your public relations and advertising efforts, or perhaps through someone you both know.
This person may observe you in the act of conducting business or relating with the people around you. The two of you begin to communicate and establish links – perhaps a question or two over the phone about product availability. You may become personally acquainted and work on a first-name basis, but you know little about each other.
A combination of many such relationships forms a casual-contact network, a sort of de facto association based on one or more shared interests.The visibility phase is important because it creates recognition and awareness. The greater your visibility, the more widely known you will be, the more information you will obtain about others, the more opportunities you will be exposed to, and the greater your chances of being accepted by other individuals or groups as someone to whom they can or should refer business. Visibility must be actively maintained and developed; without it, you cannot move on to the next level, credibility.
Credibility is the quality of being reliable, worthy of confidence. Once you and your new acquaintance begin to form expectations of each other – and the expectations are fulfilled – your relationship can enter the credibility stage. If each person is confident of gaining satisfaction from the relationship, then it will continue to strengthen.
Credibility grows when appointments are kept, promises are acted upon, facts are verified, services are rendered. The old saying that results speak louder than words is true. This is very important. Failure to live up to expectations – to keep both explicit and implicit promises – can kill a budding relationship before it breaks through the ground and can create visibility of a kind you don’t want.
To determine how credible you are, people often turn to third parties. They ask someone they know who has known you longer, perhaps done business with you. Will she vouch for you? Are you honest? Are your products and services effective? Are you someone who can be counted on in a crunch?
Profitability and Time
Mature relationships, whether business or personal, can be defined in terms of “profitability.” Is it mutually rewarding? Do both partners gain satisfaction from it? Does it maintain itself by providing benefits to both? If it doesn’t profit both partners to keep it going, it probably will not endure.
The time it takes to pass through the phases of a developing relationship is highly variable. In a time of urgent need, you and a client may proceed from visibility to credibility overnight. It’s not always easy to determine when profitability has been achieved – a week? a month? one year?
Profitability may happen quickly, or it may take years – most likely, somewhere in between. It depends on the frequency and quality of the contacts, and especially on the desire of both parties to move the relationship forward.
However long it takes, when you have established an effective referral-generation system, you will have entered the profitability stage of your relationships with many people – the people who send you referrals and the customers you recruit as a result!
Next time out we explore the VCP Process and networking online with Twitter, Linkedin and other social media, when our adventure in networking continues… Follow me on Twitter!