“Let Me Know How I Can Help”

Always be helping

A couple months ago, a young sales person who I worked with a year ago asked for a call to re-connect. He kicks the call off with: “I am calling because I thought you might know some people who might need my service.” My reaction: Nice to hear from you too. He then goes through the entire call and finishes with: “So if you know anyone, send them over to me.” Pffft. Nice job dude. I not only have no reason to help you, but I like you a lot less. Let me go down the line:

  1. Never even asked what I was doing or how I was doing.
  2. Didn’t do any meaningful pre-call research or at least if he did, didn’t bring it up except to mention that I might be able to help HIM.
  3. Actually, showed no interest in what I was doing or how I was doing.
  4. And frankly, couldn’t care less about a two-way business relationship.

Ill get back to this in a second, but first let me share a story. I was sitting in the bar area of the Rosewood Hotel. We hold all our TOPO events there and I was catching up on emails and pretending I was a big timer. John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, was there for a meeting. He walks up to the gentleman next to me and says: “I saw you raised a new round. Congratulations on your success. This is my phone number, you can call me anytime and let me know if there is anything I can do to help.” When John left, the guy turns to the person he was sitting with and said: “Holy s**t. John Chambers just walked up to me and offered to help me.” No mention of Cisco, no mention of networking needs. Surprised? I was too and I saw it live.

Sales and networking in general, is about a trusted, mutually beneficial relationship. Your job is to not only help but to strive to give more than you get back. Dan Waldschmidt studied successful people for his book, Edgy Conversations. He spent thousands of hours studying how 1,000 ordinary people in business, math, science, sports and politics overcame the massive obstacles in their way to achieve their success. One thing he found was that these successful people were all “givers”. As he puts it:

“Giving more value is a strength not bad skills.”

He was speaking at our sales summit and a question from the audience came in: “When do you draw the line from helping to selling?”

Dan: “They are the same thing.”

Back to the conversation with the young sales rep wanting my help. Here is how I would have restructured his call:

  1. Purpose of the Call
    “I asked for the call to get caught up on what you are doing. Time permitting, I’d love to tell you what I am doing. Based on my research, I’d like to see if there is an opportunity to help each other.”
  2. Reference to Pre-Call Research
    “I see from your LinkedIn profile that you…” or “I love that blog post your wrote on…”
  3. Their Update
    ‘How is business?” Based on my answer, dig in from there. Spend A LOT of time in this area.
  4. Offer Ideas on How to Help
    “Who is your target buyer?” “I’d love to introduce you to….”
  5. Your Update
    “I’d love to tell you what I am up to.”
  6. Offer to Help Again
    “Are there any other ways I can help you?” Try to come up with a specific action item that you can deliver.
  7. Ask for Help in Return
    “If you run into someone that needs XXX, I’d love to talk to them. Even if I can’t help them, I know the industry and should be able to guide them in the right direction.” Remember, it’s my network, I want to make sure anyone I refer is in the best hands so make me comfortable with making an intro.

Takers are going the way of the dinosaur. Products are commoditized, people have no time. They want business partners first…your product second. Give more than you get and a good business person will give back to you. That’s how you win. That’s not just sales, that’s business. Correction: That’s success. If John Chambers does it, so you can you.

Great image from Feed My Starving Children


Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic and a co-founder of Topo. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter