The next step in the process is to connect with these people. Now you have generally 2 ways to connect with business people. You can try to get through the screening process of receptionists, secretaries and PAs or you can try and strategically network with these people. Busy people tend to have a number of common characteristics; they work longer hours than most, during office hours they are extremely busy especially if they have to manage staff but as business people they are looking for business opportunities. I can suggest 3 ways to connect to busy people that might be more effective than trying to get through the screening process.
1. Get a referral. The question to ask is ‘who do I know that personally knows the business person I want to meet?’ When someone is referred to me by someone I know well then I will normally make the time to meet them. However, as you have been referred from a reliable source it is likely that the person is more amenable to the message you are projecting.
2. Get introduced through a network. In this case the questions are ‘what networks is the person I want to talk to in and how do I get an introduction to that network?’ The one common characteristic of business networks is that if you are in the room you are taken at face value as a legitimate business colleague. So do some googling and find out what networks, chambers of commerce etc. the person we want to talk to is a member of. The next step is to talk to the person who manages the network and ask for an entry into a business session.
3. Make an introduction at an exhibition, event or conference. The question here is ‘what events will the person I want to talk to be at in the near future?’ Now, I have done my fair share of standing at expo stands and during the busy times in the day they can be very useful. However, during the slow part of the day, especially by the second or third day, you will literally want to talk to the fake plant because you are so bored. This, by the way, is why more business gets done by people exhibiting at an expo rather than the public who come through the door; lots of time to talk. So find out, by asking questions, checking company websites or asking the organisers, will the company and person be at the expo, event or conference and get an invite to the event. At an expo you can actually pay at the door you do not have to buy a stand which is very expensive.

By using some thought it is actually relatively easy to get an introduction to most business people you just have to think like a busy person and stop thinking 9 to 5.

Within each organisation or company we now want to do our market research. In every organisation there is a power structure and there will be people who have the authority to buy. In some companies it will be the Managing Director or the C.E.O. In some organisations it will be the administrator or financial controller. In some organisations where there is a flat-line management structure and there may be a more diffuse group of people with the power to buy. In voluntary organisations it may be a committee. For each company or organisation in Step 3 we need to find the person with the person with the authority to buy what we supply.

Now we have a list of categories of customers or sub groups of people who we know can benefit from what we do. Within each group can we break out a list of companies, organisations or groups of people which fall within each category? So, if we can assist multinational companies (MNC) for a particular reason then can we make a list of the MNC in our area. If we can assist parents, can we make a list of local parent groups or if we can assist a particular community can we make a list of the local religious civil organisations serving that community. The more specific the lists are the better.

The first thing to say is that we cannot be of benefit to everyone. At a particular point in time there are going to be only a certain number of people who can really benefit from what we do. The key is to communicate with those people and not to communicate with people we cannot be of benefit to. From the previous question you should have a short list of things that people actually buy from you. Now, we want to ask what categories of people can gain from these benefits. What you are trying to achieve is a list of groups, certain types of businesses, certain groups of consumers with specific characteristics. These will be the groups that we will want to communicate with so they must be groups with members that can be easily connected with or identified. Remember that you may have different sub groups of beneficiaries for each of your unique selling points and the better defined are your sub categories the better able you will be to communicate with them later.

This may seem an obvious question at first glance; ‘I am a grocer so I sell food and groceries’ or ‘I am a consultant and I sell professional services like business planning for clients’ and at a cursory level this is accurate. However, from a marketing and sales point of view these answers are inadequate. Maybe it’s the question? Let me put the question another way. Your customers and clients have a wide range of possible businesses from which to buy who are in competition to you. So, customers can get what they get from you from a number of other sources (monopolies and protected IP aside). So why do they keep coming back and buying from you?

I guess, if you are now asking yourself the last question, that you will come back with answers like, ‘we provide a good service’, ‘we always deliver on time’ or ‘people like doing business with me because I am friendly’. This is starting to get closer to the nub of the issue. So, people go looking for a good or service and have a range of possible suppliers who can meet their needs. However, they then make a final buying decision to buy from a particular supplier because of some other factors. It could be as simple as they get on personally with the business person and will not do business with anybody else or it could be that when they had a problem three years ago and when nobody else would help, you actually went out of your way to help them out and they will now not do business with anybody else.

So when asking the questions, ‘what is it that I do?’ ask yourself the question ‘what keeps your customers loyal?’ Now, this will be unique to every business (thus why it is called a unique selling point) and you may have 2-4 main reasons why your customers buy but you must analyse the final reason why your customers buy from you and see how you can sell these characteristics to more people.