When I started my sales career back in New Jersey with Saddle Brook Control Systems I used a Day-Timer and a paper phone book to manage my contacts and calendar. In the late 90's I bought one of the first Palm Trios to manage my contacts and calendar, my initial transition to using technology to manage my life. The technology was so cool, I no longer needed a card based Rolodex. At this point in time, I'm not sure the current generation even knows what a Rolodex actually is!
After the Palm Trio and a Motorola flip phone, I went to the Blackberry and from the Blackberry to the smartphone, starting with a Motorola Droid. I loved my droid and the flexibility that it offered, but then came Apple and I have since moved everything over to the iPhone, iPad and MAC Book Air. During those years I've used so many different software packages to manage my contacts, starting with ACT! in the 90's. From ACT! we moved to GoldMine, from GoldMine we moved to SalesLogix and from SalesLogix we moved to Salesforce.com. This was all while building LTBN and 4-Profit. Once I said goodbye to 4-Profit I moved everything to Google and now have found a wonderful product called PipeDrive that manages all of my contacts and todos.
I review all of this to say that managing my relationships, the critical data that allows me to stay connected with so many people, is critically important in the arena of business development. Without a system it's impossible to build and manage relationships on a large scale. I have a good friend named Gary Pica who introduced me to the concept of the Warm 250. He said that every sales person should have a warm circle of at least 250 people that they stay in touch with regularly. For me, I believe that number is somewhere between 500-1,000 people that I'm touching on a regular basis. These are people that I've known for 30 years to some that I've just recently met.
So, how do you stay connected with so many people and not have it be a full time job? I said it before, it all comes down to systems. Every morning I have a list of people that I need to connect with that day. I have usually entered them into my system 30, 60 or 90 days earlier. I have a process that puts people into 30, 60 or 90 day cycles. If someone is on my list today and I just ran into them at an event a few days ago, they get moved out another 30 days. If I haven't seen them then I'll decide between a phone call, email, text or whatever method of communication I think is best to meet my objectives. With many people, I'm just touching base to let them know I'm alive. It's amazing to think about, but all these people are not thinking about me and my company every day!
They say it takes 7-9 touches before someone will take you seriously. I've seen studies where the average salesperson gives up after just 2 to 3 contacts when the data clearly shows that you need more connections to build a relationship. If it takes that many touches and you don't have a system to stay in touch how can you expect any type of predictable results? I've been talking about business development as a process for the past 6 months and every day it becomes clearer and clearer to me. It starts with developing the relationship and ends with managing them. In between we need to identify our target market, tell our story effectively and then find all the strategic alliances that will help us reach out ideal clients. This sound so simple, and it is, yet it's hard to execute.
I challenge you to look at your systems and look at how you manage the relationships in your life, both business and personal. In the end, people are mostly thinking about themselves and if you don't have a way to stay connected then I believe you will struggle with building your business or practice. A systematized approach to the entire process is the only way that I know to achieve the results we are looking for. If you have ideas about a system or process that's worked in your business development efforts please let me know. I'm always looking for new and better ways to do what I do.