I have always taken the view that honesty is the best policy, and I had that philosophy confirmed today. In trying to get contacts for one of my target markets I was told that a potentially useful contact attends a mastermind group for larger businesses in the area, and I was put in touch with the group leader who duly contacted me.
Don’t sell – develop relationships
He said that he had heard that I was interested to know more and so wanted to have a chat. Now at this point, I could have given him ‘a load of flannel’ about how I was really interested in knowing more, or that I was really keen to join, blah, blah, blah… But I was fairly certain that this group wouldn’t suit me at the minute – mainly for financial reasons – but also because I wouldn’t be the right fit for them, so I chose not to do that. Instead, I said that I was interested in contacting certain types of company and because of the nature of the sort of clients that attended his group it had been suggested to me that I might want to investigate it. I did say I was interested in knowing more from that standpoint, but I didn’t attempt to make it sound like more than that. And you know what? What a surprise… that was entirely the right thing to do, as he had researched me and come to the conclusion that my company wasn’t the right fit for his main group at the moment, but I may be interested in a ‘spin-off’ group he has. He explained that it was about developing relationships rather than selling to the room so I was able to demonstrate (from my experience of networking) that I was well aware that this was about the careful development of valuable relationships over time, rather than bursting in and scattering my business cards everywhere.
He was clearly happy with my approach to business and my honesty because we talked at length and he said that subject to there being no objections by other established members I could possibly attend as his guest later in the year, EVEN if I thought it wasn’t for me. This very open-minded approach was very welcome and he explained it like this:
- For one thing, you can’t KNOW if something isn’t for you before you’ve tried it
- Even if it is out of my budget (which I said it currently was) he said you can’t truly assess the value of it without at least attending once
- It may not suit me now (financially or otherwise), but it might be suitable longer term, so it is valuable for me to know how it works
- And this is the big one for me… Even if it isn’t for me I might bump into someone how it could suit some months from now and I’ll be better placed to explain how it works so that I may be able to refer them.
What a wonderful welcome to make to someone who may not fit your target market just yet! I try to be equally welcoming to all the people I meet, whether or not I think they might be future clients, because you never know who THEY know, and your reputation is spread by those that have met you (and the people they meet etc…). Being honest even when it may mean turning business away because we are not their best fit is a key Pixooma Principle and it is very rewarding to have other people treat you the same way. Business is not about numbers and prices, it is about people, and there is nothing wrong with being nice and honest, it has certainly worked for me so far.