How To Create Advocates — Not Adversaries

Everyone we come in contact with can either help us achieve our goals, or create obstacles. The outcome is dependent on how we engage with them. When we are looking to grow our business, we interact with many people in many different roles. How we see them informs how we choose to deal with them. If we are wrong, we can hurt our growth.

Everyone we meet is not a prospect. There, I said it. Moreover, it is really dangerous to assume that everyone is a potential customer. When we believe that everyone we encounter is a possible client, we approach them from that direction. We decide our communication structure based on that belief. The problem with this belief is that most of the people we meet are not potential customers. So, we are instantly alienating people instead of attracting them.

The truth is that no one likes being treated like a “kill.” We are better off not even thinking about our business when we interact with people. That way we are more interested in finding out who they are than we are in telling them about our product or service. It is that curiosity that will help us build relationships.

Consider it this way — throughout our travels we will meet all sorts of people. Some will be colleagues. Others will be referral sources and resources for our connections. Others still will be conduits to our prospective clients. And, of course, some will become clients. That array of possibilities speaks to the value of leading with curiosity and respect.

The more advocates we have in our business, the easier it will be to grow. When you call to speak with a prospect or stop by to see a prospect, everyone you encounter can either help you or hurt you. The gatekeeper can be one of your greatest supporters or they can keep you from getting in to see the prospect. The receptionist can patch you through or keep you out.

The people you meet at networking events can become great resources for you and your business or they can simply be people you meet. The beauty is that you get to choose the result because you choose how you interact.

Let’s break it down.

Networking

When you are networking, you can choose how you approach people. When you decide to be curious about the people you meet you are out of sales brain. That’s good! Being curious allows you to be fully present. You will be listening and learning. You will be determining who you want to continue to build relationships with. And you will be someone other people want to get to know.

What you won’t be doing is selling. You won’t be telling other people about your product or service. You won’t be trying to gain a client. And, you won’t be disregarding people you think aren’t prospective clients.

When you attend networking events looking for clients, you dismiss anyone you think doesn’t look like a prospective client. And when you do that, you miss out on discovering resources and referral partners. It’s a very shortsighted strategy. Remember, you need a variety of connections in your business community in order to be successful.

Prospecting

When you reach out to a person or company to make a connection you are probably not going to speak with the decision maker first. Most likely you will have to go through a receptionist, assistant, or connection. How you interact with them will have a direct impact on your ability to get to the right person.

Their job is to ensure the people they support are not interrupted unnecessarily. You aren’t the only person seeking a conversation. If the gatekeeper let everyone in, the decision maker would never get anything done.

Decide to engage with the initial contact with respect for their responsibilities and workload. Too often salespeople take this blocking personally. However, it has nothing to do with the salesperson. It has to do with the responsibilities the receptionist/assistant/connection has in their role. When salespeople realize they can actually help these folks become allies and advocates, the whole conversation changes. You need that gatekeeper in your corner. So, figure out how you can first be in their corner. How can you help them? Stop seeing them as an adversary. Take the time to build a relationship with them. That’s how you will gain access to the decision maker.

Elsewhere

Wherever you go you are building a reputation. It’s your decision whether that reputation is good or bad. Whenever you interact with people they are creating a view of you and your company. They are deciding whether you are someone they want in their world or not. Realizing you need as many advocates as possible can help you decide how you will interact with everyone. Build the best reputation you can. That reputation should be one of problem solver, helper, giver. The more you show up as someone who is more interested in helping others than in gaining business, the more attractive you will be. And the more business you will gain.

Everyone is not a potential client. Potential clients are not the only people worth speaking to. Other people can directly impact your ability to grow your business. Remembering these things will help frame how you engage as you venture out on your business building journey. Seek to gain advocates. It’s the best way to avoid gaining adversaries.

About the author: Diane Helbig is a leadership and business development advisor helping business owners around the world. She is the author of Lemonade Stand Selling, Expert Insights, and Succeed Without ‘Selling,’ as well as the host of the “Accelerate Your Business Growth” podcast. For more information, visit www.seizethisday.co.

IRE Trade Show Floor Is Sold Out

The 2017 International Roofing Expo (IRE) trade show floor has completely sold out, topping out over 131,000 square feet and 465 exhibitors.
 
Taking place March 1-3, 2017, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, the International Roofing Expo is a roofing construction and maintenance event where roofing professionals gather to experience face-to-face interaction, product review, education and networking.
 
“The commitment from so many industry manufacturers and suppliers demonstrates trust in the International Roofing Expo brand and its ability to deliver qualified buyers from every segment of the industry,” says Tracy Garcia, CEM, IRE show director. “The IRE has experienced a 41.6 percent growth in net square feet since 2012.”
 
Exhibiting companies will feature products and services spanning 40 categories, including adhesives, built-up roofing, coatings, fasteners, gutters, metal roofing, modified bitumen, roof/ decking materials, roof pavers, shingles, skylights, slate, spray polyurethane foam, tile, vapor retarders, ventilation, walkways/ballast, waterproofing, and much more.
 
“The U.S. roofing industry is in a strong position this year, and that’s reflected in the banner support we see for the IRE in terms of attendance and exhibit space sold,” says Reid Ribble, NRCA’s CEO. “NRCA is excited to again hold its annual convention in conjunction with the IRE.”
 
The trade show floor is just one aspect of the three-day event. Other highlights include an educational conference program consisting of 122 education hours and 44 sessions, a variety of special events and show floor education, as well as networking opportunities and more.
 
The show was founded in 1955 by the National Roofing Contractors Association as the NRCA Convention and Trade Show. On May 18, 2004, Hanley Wood Exhibitions acquired the show and rebranded it as the International Roofing Expo [IRE]. The IRE is now owned and produced by Informa Global Exhibitions, who acquired Hanley Wood Exhibitions in December 2014. 

Perseverance Will Keep You Ahead of the Competition

I have never climbed a ladder to inspect a job my company bids on, but that has never been an obstacle to winning roofing contracts. I know a great many roofers who have climbed the proverbial “ladder” to the top of a company they now run from the windowed corner office. A lack of hands-on experience has never been an obstacle for me. In fact, just ignore that I’m a woman working in a predominately male construction industry and I will also ask you to disregard that I’m paralyzed from the chest down. That has not been an impediment either—as difficult as that may be to believe.

No, I have not allowed this long list of potential challenges to be an obstacle (for long!) to my business success. Doing so would just not make good business sense.

When I see an obstacle in business, it’s a boulder in the road and my business sense shifts into full gear: Get over it, around it, smash through it or phone a friend with a crane. I never choose another path. I never give up. I simply don’t allow an obstacle to loom larger than my own determination.

The unwavering willingness to “get the job done” is a common thread I share with many hard-working roofers. However, there is a secret weapon that separates those who marginally succeed and those who are, well, let’s just say “comfortably successful”. I call it perseverance.

Many industry people are silently nodding their heads in agreement saying to themselves, “yeah, that’s me”. But are you too comfortable? It takes more than true grit to persevere in the highly competitive roofing business world of today.

Not only do we face the ever-present competition, there are increased regulations, greater safety standards, high costs for workers’ compensation, not to mention the shrinking pool of qualified professional roofers. We have a lot that challenges us!

Today, perseverance will cement your future success because if you don’t stay ahead of the curve, boulders, like the newest technology, higher industry standards in energy efficiency, new and improved environmentally responsible products and guaranteed safety standards, will stop you. These boulders require greater perseverance, as does meeting customer demands for knowledge and understanding their needs.

To persevere in the roofing business, you have to continue to challenge your team (and yourself) at every turn. Encourage learning and invest in employee training and professional development. As a business owner, I take the lifelong approach to learning in my business. When I had questions and was hungry to learn more about how to run a successful business, I reached out to the community for answers. I discovered allies, like The Women’s Business Development Center that provides workshops, business counseling, networking and access to knowledge that empowered me. No matter where you are in business, you have to keep learning and growing to persevere. Even the largest of boulders look small in the rearview mirror once you have overcome them.

In 1999, I was a young sailor in the U.S. Navy when Hurricane Floyd blew into Virginia where I was stationed and hurled me off a balcony that was just 1-story up. That gust changed my physical world forever. But I had something that storm could not steal from me: perseverance—a willingness to overcome challenges and a commitment to succeed. There are blockades up for each of us, but there are also ways around them, over them and through them if you refuse to accept failure as an option.

My military training has always helped me to stay “mission focused” with a commitment to excellence. The Navy also gave me a strong work ethic and the ability to work under pressure. It taught me to put an emphasis on teamwork and gave me the leadership skills to build a great business. I seek out opportunities to not only learn and grow, but also to become involved in communities of knowledge, such as The Bunker, the nation’s first veterans incubator for small businesses.

Although being a woman- and service- disabled veteran-owned business can bring advantages over many competitors, I still have to earn each and every opportunity. We have been successful at this by building relationships with our customers and earning their trust by performing projects on time, on budget, and with the quality and safety expected. In addition, just as importantly, we bring determination, knowledge and truckloads of professionals who gladly climb all kinds of ladders for me.