I was fortunate to be in attendance at a business networking luncheon for women owned businesses. The panel of speaker who presented were procurement specialists from local large companies. According to the U. S. Small Business Administration, we are still considered a small business for the services we offer. The purpose in attending as a representative to our company was to “sell”.
My mindset has always been “I am a project manager, not a sales person; I do not sell, I manage projects.” However, thanks to the persistence of our company owners’ mantra, “Everyone sells”, I am beginning to see that selling is a process, not an event. It first starts with making a connection with people.
For me, it is intimidating and anxiety filled when I walk into a room of people with no real connection. The first step to selling is then obvious, make a connection. This does not necessarily mean walking up to a potential client, making an introduction, handing them a business card and following up to sign the contract. For some, it might work so efficiently, but as a rule, it does not.
Can the little fish survive swimming upstream? Absolutely.
During this panel discussion, what I heard was, “Yes, we are large, national and international companies, but we want local small, women owned businesses in many capacities”. That was surprising and exciting to me. However, it requires both persistence and patience. They want us, but it is up to us to make it happen.
What I found is that it may start with an unassuming introduction of pleasantries about who you work for, what your company does and your current space (in what markets you are currently doing business). Sometimes it ends with an exchange of business cards and a business media connection.
What happens then, nothing? Wrong answer.
What happens then is a follow up email or phone call or re-introduction at a similar event, and then another follow up email or phone call. Every interaction is an opportunity to share the passion for your services and to connect. Successful projects are managed by well-planned processes to achieve an end result, selling is about strategically planning processes to achieve an end result. Selling is a project and should be managed as such, a process, not an event, that…..I can do.