I believe when you are an outside sales professional, there are two types of crucial relationships to cultivate with sincerity and aplomb. One is with your potential clients. The other is with peers who genuinely support your endeavors.
The reason behind cultivating the latter is simple: you can’t do it alone, and support from like-minded professionals who approach their job with the same passion you do is absolutely necessary.
These groups don’t have to convene every day, and you don’t necessarily need to touch base with feverish frequency. I have found that a monthly meeting works best: you can gather at the lunch hour, share your experiences over the last month, solicit advice and insights and trade qualified referrals, if any are present.
I love my power group. It’s diverse. That’s what makes it so effective. We have a small yet effective and cohesive “pod” with expertise in backend development, digital marketing, IT services, telecom, payroll, and moving services.
How do we interface? Easily. We have the same common goals, and quite a bit of overlap within our variegated industries. We talk shop over lunch, call each other when we need insights and collaborate on projects.
How does one assemble a power group that will work for them? I believe you should consider three points when “hiring” for an effective cohort:
1. Vet your prospects. Yes, we have lunch, but we aren’t looking for a glorified gossip hour. You want to recruit like-minded professionals who enjoy cracking a joke or two over a food cart sandwich, but be reasonable. Everyone’s time is valuable and you’ve gathered to focus on mentorship, support, referrals and growth.
2. Genuinely like who you bring on board. Sounds self-explanatory, but too often groups jump at the chance to add someone because of their title, experience and/or resume. While longevity in the industry is valuable, be sure the person behind the titles is credible and valuable as a partner, too.
3. Don’t front-load your group with five people from the same industry. Be diverse. A moving company totes the belongings of high-profile businesses across town. A marketing company works with a plethora of businesses from sole proprietorships to large firms. Even a farmer might supply his or her produce to multimillion-dollar corporations. Don’t shy away from someone because you don’t think they can benefit you. Don’t be selfish. Remain open and welcoming.
Of course, none of these groups are powerful without the most important ingredient – an ability to listen. We live in a technologically advanced era where we are constantly bombarded by noise. Oftentimes there is not time to absorb the barrage of content that fills our day-to-day existence; we are submerged in messages and advertisements. Who has time for all the colorful cacophony?
A power group speeds up your productivity by slowing you down and inviting you to focus. Lend your ears, as Marc Anthony once so eloquently addressed his crowd. Give a listen to your peers. They come from different walks of life, and their experiences are equally important. Best part about it? You’ve all come together to uplift and advance one another! You never have to feel alone in your daily challenges as a sales professional because you’ve taken the time to forge relationships within a cohort that cares.
And when you forge relationships, you build bridges. You connect with those you otherwise would never met – those who might need your services. You attract clients because you slowed down enough to listen. That should make anyone looking to increase their bottom line feel bolstered and encouraged.
Flex your muscles and construct your own power group. I look forward to hearing about your successes!