September 10, 2013
This week I spoke at TrackMaven's inaugural Competitive Summit that focused on KPIs (key performance indicators) and metrics for marketing. Most of the attendees were Fortune 1000 companies but as I sat listening to other speakers, I asked myself, "Isn't there still a place for data and metrics when a majority of your business comes from the relationships that you have?"
Relationships and data sound like oil and water. However, if we don't measure and manage analytics for our outreach to our network, aren't we just leaving our business development and the growth of our business to chance?
What data should we be tracking to enhance our relationship-based business efforts?
If you are not following up and providing value to anyone in your network each week, you have a poor baseline. Start with 7 - 10 follow ups per week. If you have a process for following up, it should take you no more than an hour to 90 minutes.
Remember, follow-ups does not mean sales pitches. It could, however, mean sharing an article you thought they would like, commenting on something they posted on LinkedIn, or even commenting on how awful the Redskins were in the first half of Monday Night Football (totally hypothetical). You just want to stay on their radar and keep the conversation open.
Based on the follow-ups that you perform each week, start tracking your reply conversion. If your conversion is relatively low (less than 40% in a one-on-one message is poor), you will need to look at your messaging, your timing, and who you are following up with to determine a diagnosis for poor reply conversion.
To determine whether your messaging and calls-to-action are resonating with your contacts, you'll want to study your email templates. Start reviewing which templates get the best return and then analyze why. Is it the length? The ask in the email? The verbiage used? As you watch and test which templates are more successful, you can fine tune your messaging for higher reply conversions.
Too many business professionals are happy with collecting business cards and feeling like they really "met a lot of people". If you go to a conference or networking event and meet 5 - 8 people, you're doing a great job. If you collect 50 cards per event, you're probably a schmuck.
It's important to build rapport in the first meeting, but then most important that you build and develop that relationship after the first meeting. John Corcoran wrote a great post on how to follow up after meeting someone in person. Read it.
With social media, many of us have more connections in our "network" than we could possibly keep up with. So, determine how you are going to track your important relationships and use that as your baseline (or denominator). I use my LinkedIn connections and email contacts as my baseline number and then organize and categorize contacts in Contactually.
I describe dormant relationships as those people who you have REALLY fallen out of touch with. For me, I put that at 9 months. If someone could have conceived and birthed a baby without me talking to them, that's too long. You may determine dormancy is a different number, but keep it between 6 - 12 months.
Monthly, look at the number of dormant relationships divided by total important network. Keep this ratio below 20%.
For businesses that gain much of their business from relationships, just the standard metrics of follow-ups are important but ultimately, when the rubber meets the road, it's important to also ensure that once a deal enters your pipeline, it is moving along as planned.
When looking at your sales process, determine the 5 - 6 stages in your pipeline. Example: initial interest, first meeting, proposal, second meeting, negotiation, signed contract.
Start looking at how your prospects convert from one stage to the next. As you start measuring this more clearly, you will also want to go back and look at the types of deals (more data!) and the relationships that lead to higher conversions and why.
Measure these 6 data points consistently and you will be well on your way to not only fine-tuning your networking process but growing your business through greater relationship ROI.