One of the most memorable trips I have been on was to Bali, Indonesia in the early nineties. It was not only the beautiful coastline, incredible surf, and $10 massages on the beach, but also the unpleasant memory of the aggressive beach vendors who preyed upon each tourist from the moment they stepped off the airplane.
I will never forget that first day when I was swarmed by at least 20 vendors outside of the airport who were looking for that moment of weakness from me. The moment I said those deadly words “how much?” Once that sign of interest appeared, they would not leave me alone until I bought something from them, or I could escape into a taxi.
As the days progressed, I learned how to deal with the vultures. I would avoid eye contact and not say a word other than no. On the rare occasion when I had a need, I would welcome them to come over and start the bargaining.
This trip helped me not only appreciate the position of a buyer but also how I wanted to conduct sales in my business. From that point, I never wanted to be viewed as a hungry vulture who might scare buyers away. I wanted to make sure they knew who I was and what I had to offer in the event they had a need. More importantly, I wanted to make sure they even had a need and what it was.
Whenever I identified a potential buyer who did not have a need at that moment, I would still reach out on occasion to make sure that when a need arose, they would think of me first.
I call this delicate yet deliberate approach “professional persistence.” The art of staying top of mind with the buyer without showing signs of desperation and impatience.
This part of business development is a common challenge with professionals. Since many do not want to come across like my aggressive Balinese beach vendors, they avoid reaching out to the buyer entirely. They just assume that when the buyer has a need, they will reach out to them.
Today’s market is too competitive to take this complacent business development approach. Here are a few ideas for professionals to stay top of mind with their contacts without appearing too pushy.
Get their point of view. Whether you are trying to stay current on a market topic or getting ready to write an article, reaching out to some of your key contacts to get their point of view is not only a good excuse to connect with them but also a great way to gather more helpful data on the topic of interest.
Send something of personal interest. The more you know about your contacts’ personal interests, the more helpful it is to reach out to them. Sending recipes, articles, sports updates, birthday wishes, or even a gift that you know they will enjoy are just a few ideas of ways to reach out to them. Learning more about them personally will also help you build a deeper, more trusting relationship with them.
Be active on social media. LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and even FaceBook are effective ways for you to stay top of mind with your contacts. Even though you might not get direct feedback from many of them, there are several of your contacts who will be those silent appreciators of your posts, likes, and comments.
While I was not a fan of the aggressive Balinese beach vendor style of sales, I still appreciated the fact that they were effective in selling their products. Staying top of mind with their buyers was certainly not a problem for them.
In today’s market, finding the balance between a Balinese beach vendor and a professional in the witness protection program is key. It does not take too much effort for those of you in the latter category to actively stay top of mind with your contacts.
Put in that extra time, energy, and effort, and you may find yourself working with more clients this year!