Recently I was in a training session and one of the participants was finding it really difficult to understand how she could connect with her Target Market through networking. Susie’s business was selling specialised booking software programmes to health centres and clinics and she had identified the practice managers as her customer and Target Market.
What became very obvious what that whilst these centres were her customers, in the context of networking, these were not her Target Market. In actual fact, her, Target Market are other suppliers of services and equipment to these centres, such as computer hardware, software suppliers, equipment suppliers, medical disposables and data management companies. These suppliers are able to meaningfully connect Susie with new customers via their own trusted relationships and break down barriers to entry. This represented a completely new revenue opportunity to Susie and her software.
Susie had been trying to connect directly with centre managers for years and was finding this a really tough ask. She was feeling like her networking efforts were wasted. In some ways they were because she was trying to get into the centres directly – with no relationship or trust factor, this was proving impossible.
We talked for a while an identified three other suppliers who were working with her dream customers. I showed her that by building relationships with these suppliers, she would be able to access her dream clients and eventually generate business.
The first step was to connect with the suppliers and work out ways in which she could help them. Of course, like all networking, trust needs to be established first, so we discussed a process of teaching potential referral partners about her business and finding ways in which she could help them with their business.
Over time, by teaching her network what she does, how she does this and the way in which she helps her customers manage their bookings more effectively, her network will be able to introduce her by way of a testimonial. There are several effective ways to deliver a testimonial that converts. One is the ‘feel felt found’ method and another I was taught by a colleague of mine, Hazel Walker who was taught by Sandler Sales, is the SODAR system. Next week I’ll discuss the power of a testimonial.
With this newfound knowledge, Susie realised that she needed to deepen relationships with suppliers in her industry. She realised that medical supplier conferences and trade shows were as must about connecting with her customer as it is about deepening relationships with other suppliers who can form part of her referral network.
In Susie’s case, her Target Market and Customer were not necessarily the same. You may network with your customers who may also be your Target Market. But if your networking efforts are failing to get you the kind of business you are looking for, think about who you really need to build relationships with and direct your networking efforts in that direction.