Many weekends ago, three different thoughts converged on a new form design challenge. The triggers were from three separate sources:
- I was chatting with Ian at the last New Media Group meeting, and he commented that one of the sales and marketing guys at his company asked him about Task Tracker form he was using. Apparently he thought it was cool, but couldn’t quite see how it would be useful for him.
My friend Joanne was commenting how it’s generally true that the more people you meet, the more opportunities you have to meet interesting people. It’s statistically true, anyway; other friends have pointed out the same thing with regards to dating.
I had just rewritten The Printable CEO™ Series page, and was noting how the Concrete Goals Tracker has two kinds of goals: tangible stuff you make, and impressions you make on people. It struck me that ALL of the forms I’d made since the CGT were about making stuff. I had never addressed meeting people. That’s a big hole!
p>So in a fit of productive insomnia, I put together the Network Catch-o-Matic: a form that counts people you’ve seen and focuses on tracking the meaningful interactions you have with them.
As the Network Catch-o-Matic is a general tool for tracking the number of people you’ve met, it’s the sort of thing that salespeople would find potentially interesting. For the hell of it I’ve made a variation of the Concrete Goals Tracker: The Rainmaker Edition. It comes with a list of sales-related metrics, and has even more bubbles to handle the greater footwork that goes into landing a sale. I’m not sure if real salespeople will like it, but it’s based on my observations of the sales process in New Media agencies.
Why Track Peeps?
I recently read a story quoted on Senia.com about Warm Fuzzies. The gist of a Warm Fuzzy is that everyone has a bag of them, and in the Old Days we used to give them away freely. Nowadays, we hoard ’em, saving genuine expressions of good cheer for our closest kin and friends. Everyone else gets “plastic fuzzies” and “cold pricklies”. I found the story humorous and insightful, so when I went shopping later I tried catching people’s eyes and smiling a warm fuzzy their way. It’s remarkably difficult, compounded by my somewhat introverted nature and people’s tendency to not look at each other anymore. So clearly I’ve got my work cut out for me; if I can exude the kind of positive energy that I’d like to participate in, I’m thinking that I can attract it back and then we’d have a great interaction. That would be awesome!
If warm fuzzies aren’t your cup of tea, the more analytical way of looking at this is to think of this as increasing your social surface area. My theory is the more people I talk to, the more interesting and enriched my life will be: I’ll learn about things I had never thought about, have new ideas introduced to me through different points of view, and my life will be changed. I’m constantly amazed at how just talking for 15 minutes with someone I’ve never met can yield so many interesting lines of future inquiry; this has been my experience with our New Media Group, certainly.
As an experiment I went to the Mall and stayed mindful of how many people I was seeing. I mean, really seeing as individuals. I tend not to notice people anyway, but I figured I saw about 200 separate individuals. Of those 200 individuals, there were maybe a dozen situations that I could have, perhaps, started up a conversation. Of those, I started zero. I’m not trying to turn myself into a public conversationalist, but I’m just saying…there are a lot of people out there, and if I talked to just one new person a day, the number of opportunities to learn are just staggering. Hence, this new form.
Of all The Printable CEO forms, this is probably be the hardest one for me to personally apply. But I’m a freelancer in his late 30s, dependent on word-of-mouth business and faced with a dwindling supply of local peeps to hang out with. Measures must be taken. Some of you out there are in the same boat; you may find this useful food for thought.
How the Form Works
The Network Catch-o-Matic is a simple counting form. Along the top is a row of 50 bubbles, each representing a person. As you encounter people during various periods of the day/week, fill in the number of people you would think of approaching. For salespeople, this would be the people on your prospect list, or perhaps people you target at a networking event or tradeshow.
After you’ve tackled that, there are six more stages of interaction to engage:
- Being seen. So you see a person. If you aren’t seen by them, you’re not going to have much of an impression. Fill in the number of people out of the people you’ve seen who “see you back”: you’ve made eye contact, or otherwise indicated that they are open to conversation. A lot of them will look away, but don’t worry about that. It happens a lot!
- Talked with. So you’ve made eye contact. Say something, already!
- Exchanged info. You’ve had a brief conversation, and you have successfully piqued the interest of the other person such that you can exchange contact information. Score!
- Planned to talk again. Not only have you exchanged cards or phone numbers, but you’ve even made a mutual promise to talk in the future. Wow!
- Actually did follow up. Actions speaker louder than words…if you actually DID meet up again, you’re on your way to establishing some kind of relationship. This can happen multiple times.
- Am collaborating. You’ve formed a relationship, and are now actively working together. In sales terms, you’ve closed the deal. In personal terms, you’ve made a friend.
These levels were based on observations I’ve had on the sales process and making friends. You’ll note that each level tends to draw from the level above it. At a glance you’ll be able to assess how active you’ve been this week, and how high your “conversion rate” is. In sales it’s typically some fraction between 10% and 100%. I’m not sure what the “friend” conversion rate is, but if you use this form you might get a sense of how much effort you’ve really put into the process.
There is a start date and an end date for the form. I chose 50 people because that would be a pretty daunting list of prospects for me to work through in a week; a real salesperson probably could blow through that in a couple days.
When all 50 slots are filled up or the time period has ended, add up the number of people in each row. Then, multiply the result by the weighting factor (it’s 1, 2, 5, or 10), and add them all into Total Points. This will give you a qualititative sense of how productive you’ve been during the week as far as your networking activities have gone. This is directly tied into the Concrete Goals Tracker; more on that in a bit.
Because you may be using this sheet all day to track your networking activities, I’ve added an area to jot down contact names and other information. This is not meant to replace a real contact database application, but it should be useful for on-the-fly notetaking. I’ve listed the essentials:
- Name. Yes, of course.
- Met where? I have trouble remembering names, so having a bit of context as to where/how we met is really important for me. You might also jot down how they found YOU, if you were not the one to initiate contact.
- Email/Phone. You just need one reliable way of contacting the person, so I just provided enough space for one or the other.
- Followup with What? You should always provide yourself an opportunity to contact the person in the future and continue the interaction. Note what the reason for followup is; it might be a promise to send some sales brochures, or to send the name of a favorite book, or a promise to have lunch sometime. Once you’ve done that, there’s a little checkbox for you to check off. With the number of people a salesperson can meet, that checkbox is critical in ensuring that a followup doesn’t fall through the cracks. That never impresses anyone when it happens.
- By When? Not only should you provide the opportunity for followthrough, you should be very specific as to when. It makes sure that you actually get things done, which sends a message to the prospect that you are a reliable, conscientious person, and therefore the company you represent is also reliable and conscientious. So deliver what you promise. If you can’t do that, you’re just digging yourself into a hole.
Concrete Goals Tracker: Rainmaker Edition
This version of the CGT is a weekly form. Sometimes it’s hard to get a handle on just how well your salespeople are doing, and figuring out where the effort is actually going is sometimes a mystery. As sales is a pipeline, showing the amount of effort that goes into each stage could help make the process more transparent outside of the department. For the single salesperson working in a small company, it’s also a way of making your work a little more tangible.
The 10 metrics I picked are weighted roughly by the revenue-building potential of a given interaction. For example, being remembered or seen is nice, but doesn’t necessary translate into a sale without followup work. Talking to people and exchanging information is worth a bit more, but it’s only when you really start making connections face-to-face or getting inquiries about your company that your prospect starts getting hot. Closing the deal, of course, is worth the most points; that’s what’s going to earn your commission, right?
You’ll notice that the expanded bubble chart provides for a lot of space for the lower value interactions; they’re the most common tasks when the pipeline is being built from scratch, and you’ve got to do the legwork. There’s quite a bit of legwork to do to build a pipeline, so providing more bubbles there also incentivizes people to do more / look for more opportunities. As things start looking up based on your public visibility / promotion work, you’ll see more 5s; they’re built on 1 and 2 point value activities, and are worded in such a way that you will need to ensure you have collateral, testimonials, and focus on getting the followup. All that stuff helps.
The bottom half of the sheet is a place for maintaining your weekly notes, whatever they might be. I would suggest keeping track of the specific interesting things that have earned point values; great to have during the next sales staff meeting, so you can say what you’ve been doing to earn your base salary (assuming you have one).
Again, I’m not sure how useful professional salespeople will find this. For non-salespeople, this form can be consider an example of how to clarify your expectations of what a sales person does for you. Sales is very much about choosing the right incentives for the staff and for the prospects, so making sure that focus is maintained tightly on results.
Note that Marketing is not the same as Sales; a different set of metrics and rules would be required for that. That’s a form for another day.
» Download Network Catch-o-Matic
» Download CGT Sales Edition
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