Road Warrior – a meaningful messenger at a Business Networking Event
By Donna Messer
Road Warriors are dependant on their skills to business network and get work. They need to know how to approach their customers and clients on their own turf, on their own time and make it a meeting that can be measured both in sales and in satisfaction knowing that both sides received value.
Are all road warriors selling products or services? In most cases they are, however some are ambassadors, combing their territory to make sure that needs of their customers are being met.
When I think of a road warrior, I often step back in time and think about the “good old days.” My dad was an insurance salesman, and it was his responsibility to pick up weekly or monthly payments for insured families in his territory – he had what was called a “debit”.
Each day he would drive to his territory and begin to call on his customers. His role was not only to do his job, but to really get to know each and every one of his customers. He made a point of chatting with them, getting to know everything he could about the entire family, so that each time he dropped by he could ask about a family member, or an area of interest.
He often brought soup for a sick customer, or offered to look after the dog, while another customer was in hospital. He shared information with everyone on his route that was timely and acceptable. He was really a part of the community, not only bringing with him the latest products and services, but also information on what was happening in the community as a whole. He made a point of knowing the editor of the local newspaper, the policeman on the beat, the grocer, the baker, the doctor, the dentist – everyone who crossed his path, became part of his business network, and he shared that business network as he covered his territory. My Dad was always referred by all of his customers. His business increased by knowing he met their needs, personally and professionally.
I wonder if the “road warriors” of today are still thinking in terms of sharing with their clients and customers what is relevant and timely about their community? If they are – congratulations, if they're not – perhaps it's time to rethink their role.
6 Tips for a Savvy Road Warrior Business Networker
- Get to know the politicians in your territory – municipally, provincially and federally. They are the key to unlocking many of the doors your clients are knocking on. Be aware of issues, interests and responsibilities these politicians have in your territory. Where possible, capture the information and store it in your laptop. Have names, addresses, and links to issues in your “war chest” then share that information with your customers and clients when it is relevant.
- Find out if there is a BIA in your territory. Business Improvement Areas are usually active in the community and have a finger on the pulse of business development, both new and existing. They know who is moving, who needs new products and services and they are happy to share that knowledge. They often represent a sizeable resource, both as potential clients and customers and as a source of current information.
- Research is critical for a road warrior, what's happening in a community reflects sales and business development. Subscribe to Stats Canada and read the daily reports, often you will find stats on an industry, a sector or an issue that will impact your business development. If you listen to a talk radio station – you will hear items that have been brought to their attention by Stats Canada.
- Check out local not for profit organizations and service clubs – they are often the breath of life in a small community. They know all about the needs and the resources here and will often share what they know. They are always looking for sponsors, for people who care about what they are involved in – it's an excellent way to bring your company to the attention of the community. Supporting a local initiative is great for creating awareness.
- Read the local newspapers and listen to the local radio station. If possible watch the community television station occasionally to really learn about the community you have in your territory. Being a road warrior doesn't have to mean, I came, I saw, I sold, I left. It can mean I came, I learned, I shared, and I'm actively involved in this community.
- If you belong to a national service club, or an organization, make sure you visit these clubs whenever possible. It's a great way to cement relationships and raise awareness of yourself personally and your company.
When you consider the tools of trade for a road warrior, it's a must to be current with all available technology. A laptop loaded with not only your database, but all the relevant and timely information that you can share with your client base is critical. Being on the road, gives you contacts outside the realm of some of your clients – make sure you learn to listen carefully to the needs of those clients. You may be able to share something or someone of value that would not normally be within their reach.
Your cell phone makes you accessible 24/7 but etiquette says turn off the ringer when you are meeting with a client. The call, while important can wait until your business has been completed. Make sure you have plenty of business cards, and that you gather new ones. Always make a note on the back of new cards, and follow up quickly with the information or resources promised.
Donna Messer is a road warrior, traveling across the country, speaking at conferences and offering workshops and training programs on business networking. Wherever she goes, she brings her laptop and her database. She never goes anywhere without first learning about the community, the issues and the industry she will be working with. She learned early in her career, that it's sharing who you know and what you know that will make the trip successful. Contact Donna at DonnaMesser@BizNetworkNews.com
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