We want to be a sales-focused, enterprise company. There’s just one problem. Our staff.
Talent Lab was approached by a large company looking to re-position itself as a technology-led organisation fit for the digital age. They approached us because whilst they had the strategy, when they are asked their sales team about what they hated most about their roles, the Number #1 answer was networking. For a company looking to pass new brand messages on to clients, this is a problem.
A lot of large companies forget that an important area for all companies is the millions of micro-meetings that their staff had with their clients. This is also networking. At least our client had identified this and knew that we understood not only the art and science of networking, but also brand and communications. Luckily, we had a guaranteed audience as they wanted our solution to be part of their company AGM to be held online and for which attendance was compulsory.
Given only 40 minutes, with a surgery to follow, our approach was to show them how most of us find conversations pretty easy. With our friends or those who look and sound the same as us, the words just flow. Even if we are different, provided we are dressed the same – in suits or in hard hat and hi-vis – we know we will have enough in common to chat. But change the outside appearance or put us all in a room where networking has to take place, we clam up. We feel awkward, exposed, imposters. We have put on the straitjacket of the first-time business contact and it just feels uncomfortable. And not just the first time, but every time. Ask your staff in a survey how they feel about networking. They hate it.
Our workshop addressed the key issues by showing our audience why they hated networking and why they didn’t need to be removing the onus to sell and focus on what networking actually is: making new connections through conversations. Everything that follows is not networking, but part of a communications and sales strategy. Taking the pressure off a business situation by understanding how to start – and enjoy – conversations, the door to the sales pipeline begin to open.