Orison Swett Marden, an American author once said, “In order to get more, give more”. He is the first to have said it, and others have followed with their own versions. Another way to say this is, “givers gain”. Whether you call it the law of reciprocity, think it might be for religious reasons or simply that the universe gives back to those that give, most believe that it is a universal law. In the spirit of the holidays, today’s article is on what giving can do for your business. For this article, I’d like to only address what giving outside of your company can do for you. That is not to say that we shouldn't give more of our time or expertise or even a lending hand to our employees or colleagues. But, since this is a sales article, I’d like to keep it to that topic alone.
Giving in business can mean a number of things. It can mean referring someone in order to help their business grow. It could mean offering free information to your prospects or customers. It can mean sending out thank you cards for the business that you receive.
Let’s discuss giving a referral first. Putting your neck on the line and taking time out of your busy schedule to help someone by referring them to another is one of the best things you can do for another in business. As you may agree, prospecting is likely one of the most difficult parts of selling. It is a huge stumbling block for many and the lack of it is responsible for many who never reach their potential. Therefore, when you can help another with a solid lead from a referral, you are truly helping that person succeed.
Now, not that day, that month or perhaps not even in the immediate future that “give” will come back to you many times over. It may be a single referral you receive, multiple referrals or it may show up in another way. That’s the odd thing about it, you never know where it will come from. There is an important point that I’d like to make about receiving a referral. Some believe that if you give a referral, the person you gave it to “owes” you. More or less a “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality. Although this type of reciprocity does exist, I don’t agree with expecting a referral from someone that received a referral from you. As mentioned, it typically comes from places you’d least expect. Additionally, if you expect a referral from somebody and they don’t deliver, one can get upset and that can affect the very relationship that you should continue to grow. We have literally heard time and again how those that simply give, without expecting anything in return, prosper the most.
Let’s discuss free information. If you’ve been to any of my training sessions, you know my opinion on giving away free consulting. On a sales call we remain firm on free consulting and believe in giving very little away. In other words, until they qualify for it, give away your knowledge and expertise only a little at a time. What we are talking about here is sending information to potential and current customers that will help them when they are not in the process of considering your services. Information that they don’t currently have that they might value. Information that helps them or makes it easier to perform in their role. Even information that might help them get a sale. Not too long ago I was contacted by a manufacturer’s representative firm about potentially helping their sales force. In their case, for a variety of reasons, the timing was not good. They were in the process of hiring some additional salespeople, letting others go and there was descension in the ranks. They truly needed to repair some internal relationships while navigating through the hiring and firing process before we could help.
Not wanting to completely lose touch with the owner and in lieu of following up month after month until they were finally ready, we decided to help them during that time instead. The first thing we did was to do some light research on their customer base to see who we might know in order to refer them. Next, we did some internet searches and found out that there were some municipalities that had just been approved with budgetary funds specifically for the types of solutions this representative firm could provide. Finally, we used Google alerts to locate any information that was written on a few of their target accounts that they had shared with us when we had our initial meeting earlier (if you’re not familiar with what or how to set up a Google alert, which sends any information written on the alert to your inbox, Google it!). By slowly sending them helpful information along the way, they eventually re-engaged. Not only were they open to receiving our phone calls during their rebuilding they were eager to sit down with us when they finally felt they were straightened out internally.
Looking back, the key in this situation was to literally expect nothing in return. If they decided eventually that they wanted our help, terrific. However, had they taken the information, prospered from it and nothing happened, that would have been ok. We felt good about what we did and knew that it helped them through some difficult times.
Finally, thank you cards. I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy getting personal mail. When you get a card or letter from someone you know, isn’t it the first piece of mail you open? We live in an electronic era, inundated with emails, text and instant messages. When you get a piece of personal mail, like a thank you card, it really stands out. I’m a big believer of handwriting them, writing the envelope yourself and sticking that stamp on by hand. I’m also a big believer of not sending them during the most popular holidays when everyone else is doing it. Be different. Send one out for their birthday or even randomly for no particular reason than to say, “Thanks for the business. I really appreciate it”. The reality is, we all are probably guilty of not thanking our good customers enough for the business they do with us. If you want to make it easier on yourself, carry in your vehicle some thank you cards with the envelopes already stamped. That way, you can write one quickly when you are waiting to go into an appointment or during other delays when you are just sitting there.
Giving, without expecting anything in return, will come back to you, I guarantee it. There are books written on the topic, interviews with famous and successful people preaching it and it’s truly a way to get more in return. And, at the end of the day, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You do something nice for someone else, something that we need more of in this country right now. Don’t you agree?