I meet a lot of entrepreneurs.
Some knowingly, by nature of the fact that I’m a serial entrepreneur so I engage with like-minded people often, and others by happenstance — while shopping, at events, at a local coffee shop and just living my life.
Inevitably, I’ve learned a lot along the way and through observation of “entrepreneurs in the wild.”
Some are more seasoned than others. Some are more confident, while others are more reserved. Some are entrenched in entrepreneurship culture while others are perfectly happy running a profitable small business.
When you meet someone that is passionately and relentlessly driven by their commitment to an end goal, you can’t help but to also be inspired. It’s exciting.
It’s in these moments that I remember what it was like when I first started a business. Even those of us considered to be small business experts, had some things to learn.
For example, I would tell anybody and everybody that had an ear and a pulse what I was doing. I was also blissfully ignorant to the idea that not everyone was interested in what I was selling; can you imagine that? In fact, I thought something was wrong with them if they couldn’t see the value. But, through experience I thankfully learned why I shouldn’t hand my business card to everyone with a pulse — at least not so quickly.
While I absolutely recommend being relentless, passionate and excited about your business, before you hand out one more business card consider this:
1. Never fail to qualify.
Before you hand out another business card, qualify. This simply means: Is the person you’re attempting to connect with your actual target audience? Are they remotely interested in what you’re selling?
Start by developing a dialogue that is meant to qualify sales leads. It doesn’t have to be scripted or impersonal, but it should help you to better meet your sales objectives. It may seem methodical, yes. But unless you’re in business for the “fun of it” and not interested in turning a profit, it’s wise to be thoughtful in your approach.
If your business model requires low levels of customer interaction, with a short sales cycle — the way you qualify a prospect will be different from that of an organization with a longer sales cycle and high-touch (involvement) opportunities.
Once you qualify a potential customer, let that determine the next stage of your dialogue — or then possibly hand them your business card. You can’t imagine how many business cards end up in the trash because someone didn’t take the time to qualify the recipient.
2. Build a semblance of a connection.
Imagine if I walked up to you, announced my title, and handed you my business card and said, “Call me.”
It’s impersonal and off-putting for most people. While this approach may work at a sporting event or convention, it’s important to assess the situation and if time permits — attempt to build a smidge of a connection.
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