“Don’t Make the #1 Mistake that Kills Most Referral Relationships and Power Teams Before They Ever Start!

January 22, 2013

By Lee Abraham

We’ve all heard the cliché, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions!”

deal with the devilWhether we like them or not, a cliché stands the test of time because it is an expression of truth.  Sometimes the truth is obvious, other times it is elusive and counter-intuitive.

In business networking, the “good intentions” cliché applies to referral relationships, and is particularly meaningful in the formation of a Power Team.

Typically, Power Teams are formed by a group of people, usually from the same industry group, who have the best of intentions. After all, they like and trust and each other, and want to help build each other’s business. Based on the idea that they often work for clients who could be cooperatively passed back and forth as non-competing referrals, the Power Team partners get together to brainstorm and make a commitment to help each other make more money.

What could be wrong with that?

In the beginning, there’s nothing wrong in gathering with like-minded individuals who want to help each other. The problem arises when the initial excitement wears off and the commitments made fail to materialize into results because there is no plan in place to transform the group’s good intentions into action.

Two Critical Steps

In their eagerness to pass business back and forth, Power Teams invariably repeat the #1 mistake that kills most referral relationships before they ever start by skipping over two critical steps in what my research has shown to be the “4 Stages of Power Team Development.”

money stairsI’ll cut to the chase. The first step to building successful referral relationships is to prepare yourself to go out and train your referral partners, or “Bragging Buddies,” to create high quality referrals for you.

During this first stage of Power Team “Boot Camp,” you should have two goals: to simplify the description of your targeted prospects, making it easier for your Bragging Buddy to recognize referral opportunities for you, and to clarify your message of why you and your product or service are special, which empowers your Bragging Buddy give more compelling testimonials about you.

Once you’ve completed boot camp, you’re ready for stage two, training your Bragging Buddy to recognize opportunity and give compelling testimonials. After all, what good is a referral partner who is excited and full of good intentions, but doesn’t know what to look for or what to say?

The Rest of the Story

With steps one and two in place, a group of properly trained Bragging Buddies are now ready for stage 3, getting together as Power Team Pioneers, excited and prepared to transform their collective good intentions into action as Power Team.

Makes sense, right? Lacking a clear roadmap to follow, the vast majority of Power Teams not only skip over stage one and two, they fumble through stage three as Power Team Pioneers and sadly, have no idea about stage four as an Advanced Power Team.

In the end, even the best of intentions unfortunately fade away, leaving only frustration, disappointment, unfulfilled hopes and dreams, and worst of all, a huge stack of money on the table.

Want to fulfill your hopes and dreams? Visit www.moneyonthetablebook.com and learn how to claim your money on the table with an easy-to-follow Power Team Roadmap™!


Wag More, Bark Less & Refer Often: The Pet Lovers Power Team!

September 2, 2012

by Lee Abraham

People who love pets are a special breed. For many animal lovers, their dog, cat, bird, fish or horse is like a child, something very near and dear to their heart to be nurtured, protected and appreciated.

As a result, pet lovers are often:  

  • Purchasing products and services from pet themed specialty vendors
  • Attending pet themed events
  • Reading pet themed websites and magazines
  • Easily recognized in public

Animal House

A huge market of “animal lover” consumers with motherly or fatherly emotions and spending habits toward their pets and a vast assortment of products and services from pet themed specialty vendors create a huge opportunity to leverage a Pet Lovers Power Team!

Dog & Pony Show

Here are 10 business categories with relevant products and services for pet lovers:

  1. Pet Sitter
  2. Pet Groomer
  3. Pet Trainer
  4. Pet Food
  5. Veterinarian
  6. Pet Supplements & Medications
  7. Pet Supplies
  8. Pet Therapy/Chiropractic
  9. Pet Boarding
  10. Pet Portraits

Beyond Pet Products: Share the Love

As a group, the 10 businesses listed have multiple opportunities to systematically promote each other’s pet themed products and services to create an ongoing stream of referrals.

Further, the Pet Lovers Power Team can also promote networking partners in non-related business categories but who also love pets, such as a realtor, personal trainer, event planner, business coach, or automobile mechanic. With systematic and relevant promotion by a trusted vendor from the Pet Lovers Power Team, these non-related, but pet friendly businesses will also enjoy an ongoing stream of referrals. 

Do you love animals? Learn to wag more, bark less and refer often with the Pet Lovers Power Team! 

 


Bragging Buddy Selection and the 5 Deal Breakers

August 7, 2012

by Lee Abraham

As a Bragging Buddy it’s your job to help a prospect like, trust and want to do business with your Power Team. And in turn, it’s your Power Team partners’ job to be your Bragging Buddy.

Bragging Buddies don’t just magically appear. Successfully creating an ongoing stream of high quality referrals is the result of learning about each other as a person, as well as a business, and systematically implementing proactive referral creation activities that work.

Relationship Marketing

Regardless of the system or strategy, the driving force in any referral relationship is the relationship itself. With Bragging Buddies, the relationship must go beyond a solid foundation of someone you like, trust and whose product or service you feel good about promoting, to whether or not your networking partner is teachable and ultimately going to proactively and systematically reciprocate your referral creation activities.

All of these elements are deal breakers. Miss one and your results will suffer.

5 Deal Breakers

Being teachable and accountable for reciprocating your referral creation activity expands the scope of a Bragging Buddy relationship beyond typical expectations of a networking partner.

Your results depend on choosing the right person before investing your time and energy into building a Bragging Buddy relationship. To simplify the process of reviewing whether or not to approach a potential Bragging Buddy, ask yourself the following 5 questions.

  1. Like? Do I like this person and enjoy being around them?
  2. Trust? Do I trust this person and believe they will make me look good in the eyes of the consumer?
  3. Consumer Value? Do I believe this person’s product or service delivers a good value to the consumer?
  4. Teachable? Is this person teachable and interested in learning new tools and systems to take the guesswork out of referrals?
  5. Reciprocate? Will this person be accountable to reciprocate my efforts and take action by following a structured word-of-mouth referral system to proactively promote my business?

All answers must be “yes” before you can reasonably expect to maximize your Bragging Buddy success and Power Team networking!


Target Market Clarity – Why the Six Key Situations Make it Easier to Give Referrals

May 30, 2011

Most transactions, regardless of industry or business category are the result of a consumer experiencing a life cycle event which requires the products or services of various vendors.

Successful business networkers are always on the lookout for these life cycle events to create referrals for their networking partners.

The problem however, at least on the surface, is the variety of life cycle events driving the economy seems enormous. How can anyone possibly remember all the connections between the products and services of their networking partners and the endless variety of challenges people experience in their daily lives?

Just think of all the different industries and business categories focusing on their slice of the marketing pie. From selling insurance or repairing automobiles to healing an aching back or remodeling a kitchen, it seems that every business is looking for its own, unique target market.

Six Key Situations = Six Easy Target Markets

In Money on the Table, we simplify the universe of potential target markets into “Six Key Situations” or life cycle events that are the underlying cause of the vast majority of referral opportunities in a structured business networking group.

  1. Business Builder
  2. Getting Healthy
  3. Getting Married
  4. Relocation
  5. New Baby
  6. Real Estate Construction, Remodel & Maintenance

By focusing on how each of your networking partners offers a product or service to a consumer experiencing one of the Six Key Situations, you will not only recognize more opportunities to create referrals, you will give stronger, relevant and more compelling testimonials that result in closed business for your networking partners.

Start with Your Product or Service

Many of the products and services from your networking partners will be obvious, others less clear but nonetheless powerful. For example, a Business Builder may know she needs the services of a promotional products person to build her brand but may be unaware of how an event planner can create a successful product launch, how the personal chef can save her money with healthy home-cooked food or the cleaning service can save time doing the housework, so she can spend more time building her business!

Understanding how different business categories from different industries provide a relevant product or service to each of the Six Key Situations starts with a review of your own business category and which of the Six Key Situations are the most productive referral circumstances for your business. More on this next time, when our adventure in networking continues…


Sudden Impact – Beyond Hot Referrals

April 10, 2009

by Lee Abraham

money-in-the-bank2jpgEveryone loves a hot referral. On the receiving end it’s called money in the bank… Ca-CHING! For the giver, it’s more of a feeling. A warm and fuzzy tingle you get every time your networking efforts help build the business of someone you like and trust. Not to mention, a networking partner who is helping build your business in return.  

Two words: “Givers Gain®!

Coined by Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of BNI (Business Network Int’l), the world’s largest business network, Givers Gain® is BNI’s philosophy of helping others first and then benefiting in return.

That said, hot referrals are great for both the giver and receiver. And yeah, as a result, everybody around the networking table walks away viewing you with a little more Credibility. But if you really want to rock the house and lift the energy of every single person in the room, bring a Visitor to the meeting!

Inviting Visitors 101 – Invite Visitors to VISIT, not join your group

Obviously, the primary reason you invite visitors to your networking meeting is to grow the group. Even a group that is productive at its current size needs to have a steady flow of Visitors simply to cover the natural attrition of losing people due to relocation, downsizing, changing careers or not renewing membership for some other reason.

Plus, even Visitors who do not submit an application to join your network are likely to do business with someone in the group. Studies show each Visitor does an average of $2,500 with one or more people in the group whether they join or not. 

Most important: A Visitor brings fresh energy and even if the other members aren’t consciously aware of it, everyone becomes a bit more animated. visitor1During Open Networking at the start of the meeting, every Visitor is a potential customer for each member of the group. The sense of new opportunity impacts everyone in attendance. And as the person who invited the Visitor, your VCP skyrockets! 

In short, Visitors are the lifeblood of a weekly networking meeting. Your ability to attract Visitors to the meeting plays a major role in your VCP with the other members, and in turn, the benefit you get out of the group. 

What to Say

Good news! Everyone can be successful at bringing Visitors to the meeting. Keep it simple and you’ll do fine. Here are a few basic tips to increase your results: 

1) Avoid creating obstacles that get in the way of someone who might otherwise visit your meeting. Top of the list: suggesting they consider joining. It’s counterproductive.  All the suggestion does is trigger questions of “How much does it cost to join” and “What’s the commitment?” Not good for your Visitor to Invitation ratio!

Let me repeat: Invite Visitors to Visit, not Join your group.

Why? Less pressure and greater probability of success. Trust me, run a good meeting and it will sell itself. Your job is to get the Visitor to the meeting. If joining is a good idea, singerVisitors will see it on their own. 

2) When Inviting, sing the group’s praises, tell the potential Visitor about how great the networking group is for your business and that you would love for them to see how it works. 

3) Tell the prospect about other business categories and people in the group who would likely be a good connection based on Contact Spheres and Power Teams.

For example, if the prospect is a Home Inspector, they would be interested to meet the Realtor, Mortgage and Insurance person in the group. A Photographer would love to be introduced to your Florist, Caterer and Event Planner. Capiche? Click here for a post on Contact Spheres and Power Teams.

4) Ask the Visitor to bring a stack of business cards and be ready to connect with a room full of your networking partners, people who might become a source of referrals for them. 

5) When inviting let the prospect know that there is no cost or obligation to visit, other than maybe a room or meal charge if you have one. Most structured networking groups allow Visitors to sit in on two meetings and then ask the newbie to either submit an application for membership or quit freeloading. 

More Than What You Say, It’s How You Say It

Best practice: be excited, show enthusiasm and speak from first hand experience. What do you enjoy most about the meeting? Talk about how your networking group has benefited you and your business. What business categories might be natural networking partners for the Visitor?

If you genuinely feel great about your group, the person you are talking with will feel it too. bull-by-the-hornsAnd like it or not, we make decisions based on emotion. Be smart. Tap into your positive feelings. Use your emotional energy to direct that quirky thing called “human nature” to your advantage.

I see the look of determination on your face. You are ready to take the bull by the horns and start inviting like never before. The problem? You aren’t sure who to talk to. Got it! Join us next time when we look into who you should invite to your networking meeting and why, when our adventure in networking continues… Follow me on Twitter!


Everything Counts – Personal Branding and Networking

March 28, 2009

 

memo2By Lee Abraham

 

Personal Branding is a big deal. Particularly in networking. Last couple of times out we got into the VCP Process® and building business relationships. In short, regardless of who we are or what we do, we go from Visibility to Credibility and finally Profitability as we strengthen relationships with our networking partners. Click here for more.

 

So far so good. Most people got that memo. But like anything else, there’s usually a gap between knowing and doing. Sometimes it’s a rebellion thing. We’ll talk about that later.

 

Good news. More often than not, people participating in a structured networking group are motivated to make money and are open to new ideas. The problem: people don’t know what they don’t know! So what do you say we get past theory and into the details of Personal Branding and Networking.

 

Everything Counts

 

Bottom line: How you are seen by others has everything to do with how many referrals you receive. Like it or not, everything you do and everything you say, either helps or hurts your Personal Brand. Including little things you rationalize in your mind as unimportant or unnecessary. 

 

So here we go. Over the next several blog posts we take the mystery out of mastering the VCP Process® with a Power Team “Best Practices” on the following topics:

 

Basic Meeting Etiquette: What to do, not do, and why

training1Contact Spheres: Creating Golden Goose sources for ongoing referrals

One to One Meetings: Face to face networking and training to build VCP

Referrals: Recognizing and converting opportunity into money making referrals 

Sales Force Updates: Training the Power Team

Testimonials: Bragging Buddy Tricks and Tips

Training: Investing in your own personal development

Visitors: Inviting and networking with new people

 

Basic Meeting Etiquette (part 1)

 

Basic Etiquette 101: Wear your name badge.

 

We start here for a reason. Name badges are a litmus test. Research shows there are four types of people as it relates to wearing a name badge. Please be honest with yourself on which category best describes you.

 

Let’s start on a positive note: people who wear their name badge.

 

While it seems trivial to many, the name badge from your networking group is important and has an impact on your networking efforts. badgeFor starters, the badge has a dual purpose. An easy ice breaker with your name and business for open networking and Visitors at your networking meeting, the badge also confirms an impression to Visitors that your group is organized and focused.

 

Subtle but true, seeing people wearing the same badge helps a visitor see your networking group’s structure, system, and more easily identify energized members participating enthusiastically, the three most important variables Visitors are looking for in a networking group.

 

Personal Development

 

OK, let’s take off the warm and fuzzy kid gloves and go bare knuckle: some folks simply don’t want to wear a name badge. Why? You heard me: they just don’t want to! Hey, whatever. While it was funny and cool to watch John Belushi’s “Badges?!? We don’t need no stinking badges!” in the all time classic comedy Blazing Saddles, the same is not true in a structured networking environment. Fact: Wearing your name badge makes a positive difference.

 

In many ways, success in a group setting is a function of Personal Development. We all lead by example whether we realize it or not. If you fall into this category of rebellion, I strongly suggest you pass a referral for yourself to the Business or Life Coach in your networking group, to work on it. That way, everyone wins.

 

Alright, now for a group hug. I know, sometimes you just forget the badge and that’s why you don’t have it on at your networking meeting. Fine. We still love ya. But c’mon now, let’s get it in gear and simply make the name badge a priority going forward. Believe it or not, wearing the badge will build your VCP with the other members of your networking group, and in turn, you will receive more referrals.

 

Plus, the more people wearing badges increases the percentages of the group making a favorable impression with Visitors, resulting in more applications for membership in your network.

 

badge21The Extra Mile

 

And now we come to the fourth group. These people are the Power Team Networkers you want on your team. That’s right, I’m talking about the folks who go the extra mile and wear their name at other business functions, in addition to their weekly networking meeting.

 

Whether it be Chamber of Commerce Mixers, or Industry Conferences and Trade Shows, wearing a name badge identifying you and your networking group is a powerful projection of your Personal Brand. Properly identified, you are now positioned to take a real interest in an other person’s product or service from the perspective of structured networking expert, talking with them of ways to add value to their business. And in the process, opening doors that might have otherwise remained closed.

 

Identity Crisis

 

OK, I lied. There is actually a fifth group. People who wear their own badge from their company or office. Yes, this is better than wearing no badge at all. But the group itself loses your contribution to the perception of structure and system in the Visitor’s mind. Further, you also weaken your message at an outside event when talking to another business person about the great networking group you belong to.

 

We agree, company pride is good. telescopeAnd important. But Power Team bling gets more done. Got flair? Wear both badges! Take a risk: be excited! Or take a bigger risk and keep yourself and your networking group a secret. The choice is yours.

 

Next time out, we put more ideas under the Power Team microscope, focusing on the little things you can do each week at your networking meeting to strengthen your Personal Brand, when our adventure in networking continues… Follow me on Twitter!


There is No “I” in “VCP” – Networking Relationships and the VCP Process®

March 13, 2009

salesmanby 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. time1Among 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. 

 

VCP Process®

 

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.

 

Visibility

 

The first phase of growing a relationship is visibility: you and another individual become aware of each other. mirrorIn 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

Credibility is the quality of being reliable, worthy of confidence. trust3Once 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, online-23when 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!