Experiment #2 - Doing business the old fashioned way
Updated: Feb 22
I enjoy running experiments and learning from them. They also allow me to write articles like this one where I don't give advice, just reflections. I find it useful. Hopefully some of you will too.
Let me introduce Experiment #2.
It had been suggested by more than one person that "doing business the old way", i.e calling and meeting people may yield better results than using Social Media. As a new business owner, I thought I'd give that a try.
And so for 30 days, I attended conferences, networking events, webinars, breakfast meet-ups, you name it. I pounded pavements, handed out business cards, cold called, warm intro'd, cold emailed, followed up, built some new relationships and found a deeper level of support than I ever could get from a "like"
I'm glad I wasn't tracking my coffee intake, as I've done a fair few of those too.
5 Personal Learnings
1. It's a little bit like Speed Dating
Looking back, I found the first few encounters with prospects (I prefer to call them people) difficult. I was approaching it like I was at a speed date. And I probably sounded just as awkward. Somebody asks you that dreaded question "So what do you do?" And out of your mouth emerges a rehearsed answer, met by either feigned interest, silence or a furrowed brow.
Polite at best. Dismissive at worst.
It didn't take me long to work out that I needed to approach this less like a sales pitch and more like a conversation. "Be interested and Be interesting" is a mantra, that I got very comfortable with. Yes it took longer to talk about my business, but it was a whole lot more fun, felt more natural and critically helped me build rapport.
Before starting out, I had never understood what a Sales Cycle meant. I think I do now. Not in the deepest technical terms, but I get it emotionally. It's an arduous, uphill climb that requires self belief, endurance and patience. Lots and lots of patience. A single phone call to a familiar contact can go unheeded for weeks, and you need to work out the difference between following up multiple times and general all out harassment.
3. Discriminate on purpose
The early part of my experiment, had me indiscriminately approaching prospects who were neither interested, nor in a position to buy. Apart from leading to silence (see above), it actually started to ebb away at my confidence. Not a good thing obviously.. So I began to get a lot more selective on who I approach and that seems to be working a lot better.
4. It's not about you
There is a tendency to be your own harshest critic. Something I learnt multiple times over the last 30 days is that the reason for silence is often nothing to do with you, but everything to do with your potential client having multiple priorities. Lack of interest in your solution may not actually be one of them.
5. The highs of experiencing an opening
It was around half way through the 30 days, that a prospective client I'd been speaking to for nearly 3 weeks started to move forward into real work. It felt more gratifying than a payrise, and more powerful than glowing feedback. It’s validation that something you have created now has potential value for someone else. That’s an amazing feeling.
Those reading this that have been there, will know exactly what I'm talking about.
Luckily for me, I enjoy the learning as much as the outcome. Sometimes more so. As a result I believe in 30 days, I've developed more patience, grown more resilient, become more selective in who I approach. On top of that I am clearer on my proposition than I've ever been. And that can only be positive.
So here's to Experiment #3 and the next 30 days. I have an inkling of what it could be. Keep following me to find out!
Anish is a self confessed Change obsessive and founder of Jigsaw Change Consulting. A London based consultancy providing an improvement lens on to meeting culture.