Open Ears Open Opportunities for Referral Business

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Listening is the best way to discover a potential network member.

Once you discover an individual’s interests or – even better – his passions, you tap into information that will help you build a much stronger relationship

For success in sales, salespeople must know their customers. For success in generating referral business, it’s just as crucial to know their sources – the members of their network. According to the CEO of the world’s largest networking company, there are several ways to gather information about prospective network members. No special skills are required.

Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of BNI (Business Network International), says the easiest way to find out about prospective network members is simply to engage them in ordinary conversation and listen carefully. “Once you discover an individual’s interests or – even better – his passions, you tap into information that will help you build a much stronger relationship,” says Misner.

Want to know even more about prospective network members? Misner, also a professor of business at Cal Poly University in Pomona, CA, suggests these other easy information-gathering techniques:

1)    Observe. What kind of car does she drive? What does her bumper sticker say? Salespeople will be surprised how much they can learn just by watching and thinking about what they see.

2)    Ask questions. What exciting things did she do this weekend? How has her year gone? This is the way most people get to know about their friends and acquaintances.

3)    Review written materials. Look over all of the prospect’s promotional materials – brochures, business cards, and newsletters. Salespeople should know as much as they can about their business.

4)    Ask others. Anyone who has contact with a prospective network member is a source of information.

5)    Share information. Share a goal, accomplishment, or interest with a prospective network member. She will probably respond in kind.

As salespeople discover key information about people they’re interested in, they should keep records; otherwise, they’re likely to forget important details that could help bring them referral business.

BNI (http://www.bni.com) is a referral networking organization, which at last count had over 4,000 individual chapters in 25 countries worldwide. BNI’s Founder & CEO, Dr. Ivan Misner is the author of several book’s including the NY Times best-seller, Masters of Networking, (http://www.MastersofNetworking.com) and the recently released #1 best-seller, Masters of Success (http://www.MastersofSucces.biz).

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Michael Drew

850-747-8188

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