In this digital world, most of business is done online with convenience and ease. But what about referrals and introductions? Networking is an important part of business that won’t be pushed aside as we digitize our work processes.
Luckily, making introductions online is easy and effective — as long as you’re doing it right. An introduction is personal by nature, so when making them online there are a few things that must be done to preserve the intimacy of the interaction. Here are some tips for doing online introductions right.
The initial text-based introduction
Whether giving or receiving referrals, an electronic handshake via email or social workspaces can be a very effective form of introduction. Here’s how it works: The referral source sends a message to the prospect and CC’s you. You then follow up with the prospect, but within that first message there are some important things that must happen to facilitate a proper referral. Here are 5 tips for making an electronic handshakes more effective:
1. Make sure the referral source CC’s you. Ask them to. Don’t assume they will.
2. When you contact the prospect, write something like, “I’d like to present myself as a resource to you, as I have been for George. Let’s set up a five-minute call or meeting to get the conversation started.”
3. In your first message to the prospect, put your referral sources name in the subject field to increase the chances of the prospect reading the message.
4. CC your referral source on this first message so they know you’re moving forward with the referral, but don’t CC them on every correspondence.
5. Keep your messages short and try to move into phone calls or meetings as soon as is appropriate. Do not try to make sales via email.
Chatting face-to-face online
An increasingly popular form of the online introduction is an online meeting with video conferencing. When you and your prospect turn on your webcam in an online meeting, you’re experiencing the closest thing to an in-person meeting — but in a convenient, non-intrusive environment.
There are two ways to use video conferencing for referrals and introductions online: First, a three-way video conference creates a personalized and memorable introduction that allows your referral source to verbally introduce you and your prospect. And with video, your prospect familiarizes with you more quickly, making the introduction more valuable. Second, you might use video conferencing as a follow-up to the text-based introduction your referral source provided in email or messages within a social workspace. Once in the meeting with your new prospect, you can talk face to face about their needs and questions.
An online meeting allows you to leverage the trust between the other two parties and build your own trust more quickly. Here are three tips for making online meeting introductions more effective:
1. Don’t wing this call. Have a brief agenda. In most cases this online introduction should be very brief (5-10 minutes) unless you know you have a very interested prospect. If your new prospect is ready to move forward quickly, you can use the screen-sharing feature of the online meeting platform to launch into a demo or show any other documents or web pages you use to assist your sales conversations.
2. Follow the same consultative sales process you would if you were meeting the prospect in person. Don’t make this online meeting a “tell them” meeting. Make it a discussion. Ask good questions to draw out their perceived needs. Resist the urge to go into “presentation mode” too quickly. And always turn on your webcam.
3. Practice with the technology a few times before using it for an online introduction — you want to feel comfortable with it by the time you’re in the meeting. The technology should be easy to use so it does not get in the way of your conversation.
Copyright 2013 by Bill Cates and Referral Coach International
Bill Cates is the author of Get More Referrals Now! and Don’t Keep Me a Secret! His new book, Beyond Referrals, is being released by McGraw-Hill in April 2013. Bill helps salespeople get more referrals and turn those referrals into new clients. Check out Bill’s books at www.GetMoreReferrals.com. Contact Bill directly at BillCates@ReferralCoach.com.