As I began learning to sell, the genesis of Connect for Life was born. While I was successful at using my relationships and contacts to get into the right companies, I was also challenged by the business developer’s dilemma depicted in the graphic below.
The Salesperson’s Dilemma
In any organization, the lifeblood of the business is new business leads at the top of the sales funnel that the organization can then turn into real opportunities that generate revenue. As a business developer, I was always haunted by building a pipeline and then draining the pipeline. A pipeline can be defined as all the opportunities you are chasing that may lead to real revenue for the company. In the graphic above, the top crest is a robust pipeline. As one works these deals, either winning or losing them, and does not replace them, one eventually gets to the trough where they have no new opportunities to work on. In my journey, I developed a close friendship with another business developer in the office who focused on a different industry, so we were not in competition with one another. One Friday evening, we started brainstorming on what we could do to lessen the depths of our troughs in the generation of quality leads. The Big Dog contest was born.
Tracking Non-Selling Activity
We created a list of valuable “non-selling” activities. This included keeping up with people, giving somebody something of business value, attending networking meetings, etc. We would also write something of interest about the software we were selling – what problems it solved, what those solutions looked like, where the value was actually created in the process, and so forth. After assigning a point system to each activity, we kept a running total for a week, a month, and a quarter. We operated on the honor system. On a weekly basis one of us would win and the other guy would buy lunch, a round of golf, or a hat or shirt from our local Big Dog store at the mall.
Value Creation and Accountability
Our slogan was, “If you want to run with the big dawgs, you have to get off the porch.” The idea was simple. If you are always in the market creating value for friends or trading knowledge with others about companies or the market in general, you soon get to know every company or executive who has a need for the types of solutions we offer. The two of us quickly became the top business developers in the office and had a lot of fun with the banter and gamesmanship. We simply made a habit of doing things that created value for others and held each other accountable.
Origin of ConnectPoints
I’ve discussed the Big Dog Contest because it became the building blocks we used in starting Pariveda Solutions, and the concepts are the foundation of my book Connect for Life. Later, we would create an entire methodology called ConnectPoints that was a guideline of activities across connecting, marketing, and selling. These ConnectPoints are usually tracked by individuals on a weekly basis so that they can be more deliberate in developing a winning habit. It was so successful, we built a product called ConnectPoints to assist folks in setting goals, tracking activity, viewing history and gamifying points between colleagues. What we endeavor to help folks do is establish the right habits for connecting to their network or developing one from scratch. If you want to run with the big dogs, you will need to get off the porch and start running. Sometimes getting off the porch is the most difficult step.