Suurbritannia ärisuhtluse strateeg Andy Lopata vastas 20. aprillil lugejate küsimustele.
Ajaleht The Sun on andnud Andy Lopatale hüüdnime Mr. Network ning Financial Times on nimetanud teda üheks Euroopa juhtivaks ärisuhtluse strateegiks. Lopata on kolme ärikontaktide loomise teemalise raamatu autor ja aidanud ärikontaktide võrgustike potentsiaali realiseerida nii väikestel ettevõtetel kui ka suurtel organisatsioonidel nagu Deloitte, Merrill Lynch ja Mastercard. Ta on rahvusvaheliselt tuntud kõneleja ning The Professional Speaking Association endine president ning praegune aktiivne liige.
Neljapäeval, 26. aprilil saab Lopatat näha ja kuulata Eestis, nimelt esineb ta siis kahe ettekandega Ülemiste Citys – hommikul Technopolis Business Breakfastil ning lõuna paiku StartSmart! seminaril "Roadmap2Global Markets", kus tutvustatakse startuppidele rahvusvahelistumise võimalusi.
We have a plan to enter to the Scandinavian market. We are a small manufactory. It seems that in the Nordic countries there is a strong "allround defence". Aliens are not wanted. Please give some advice, how should we start networking or to build up business contacts.
/Meil on plaanis siseneda Skandinaavia turule. Oleme väike tootmisettevõte. Tundub, et just põhjamaades on ees tugev ringkaitse. Võõraid ei taheta. Palun nõu, kuidas võiksime ärikontaktide loomist alustada/.
As I am responding to this from Oslo, following giving a presentation for a Swedish client, I can assure you that you can break into the Scandanavian market. In fact, my client told me that they now use a number of overseas suppliers, particularly from Estonia and Poland, as they can access equal quality for less cost.
You could start by building relationships with other Estonian companies already serving the Scandanavian market or with Scandanavian companies operating locally. My introduction to the Swedish market was through existing contacts in London.
The other advice I would recommend is to show commitment to the market you want to work with. Make 'relationship building' trips to the key cities, going to industry events and arranging meetings with key players. Rather than sell on edge first visit, make your trips more about fact finding, research and relationship building. Let people know you are there to stay and let them learn to like and trust you first.
1. Pursue the relationship, not the sale. Selling at events feels uncomfortable because you know other people have not come to be sold to. So don't. Show a genuine interest in other people, find out what you have in common and look to develop rapport and a relationship over time.
2. Relax and be yourself. If you take the sales pressure off and enjoy yourself, people will be attracted to you. Find people who share a similar background, similar interests or who know the same people as you. Don't worry about asking people what they do for a living or exchanging elevator pitches. Get to know the individual,
3. Follow up. The pressure is on because you feel the need to sell at the event. Instead, get to know people over time. I would rather build such a strong relationship that you refer me time and again, rather than buy from me once. And if you are happy enough to refer me, you'll buy from me anyway if you need what I offer.
One approach used by many organisations is to ask an independent third party to arrange to call with questions. Make an appointment, so that they set aside some time.
People will often be more open and more honest about your products and service if they are speaking to someone from outside the company.
The other thing to look at is the depth of your relationship with your clients. If you are able to build strong, trusted relationships, clients will be more motivated to give you honest and open feedback, knowing that by doing so they are helping you to develop your business. If they know that you listen and see that you act upon their suggestions, they will be more open to be constructive.
I don't have an in depth knowledge of the construction industry, so would be unable to give you advice specific to selling these products or local regulations.
In general though, the advantages of selling through a local distributor will be the networks and relationships they already have in place. Working in partnership with a company in the market you want to access will give you a huge advantage reaching potential clients. You have to balance that benefit against the cost of shared revenues.
If you wanted to sell direct, you need 'Champions' in the local industry. Work with one or two companies who will take on your product and prove it works and ask them for referrals to other similar companies. Focus on building the relationship so that they are happy to help you, even by introducing you to their competitors.
Kas networking tõesti veel tänapäeval Inglismaal (ja mujal maailmas) toimib? Olen kuulnud, et Inglismaal on kõik ärivaldkonnad teatud kildkonna vahel juba ära jagatud?
/ Is it really truth, that networking is actually working today in England? I have heard, that in England (and also in other countries) are most business sectors divided between certain families or cliques?
Networking is growing in strength in the UK and is responsible for the success of a lot of businesses. This is both through formal networking events (such as Chambers of Commerce and BNI) and sites (like LinkedIn and Twitter) as well as informal networks.
Traditionally it was felt that many people succeeded through the type of clique you mention. Often known as 'the old school tie', it was felt that people were given an advantage if they came from the right family or went to the right school. I'm sure that this is still the case in some places (many feel that our current Government is an example of this) but the growth in the popularity and credibility of business networking has been reducing the influence of these traditional networks.
Networking is about collaborating to help everyone achieve greater things. You are surrounded by people who have different expertise, experience, ideas, approaches to challenges and contacts to you. If we work together to share those advantages, everyone stands to benefit.
More traditionally, networking is seen as formal events and networking sites. These make it easier to meet and stay in touch with people with whom we can collaborate, but true networking is founded on the strong relationships built away from such events and sites.
Access to networks can help you in three way. It can help you become:
Better equipped and
People in your network can tell others about you when you are not there; they can support and share information with you and they can make key introductions to potential clients, suppliers, sources of finance and advisors.
Mida olete teie ise konkreetselt saavutanud tänu networkingule? / What have you achieved yourself thanks to the networking?
My business has both been turned around and grown internationally with the help of my network.
At one stage my business was in a lot of trouble. We were offering something that wasn't working and had invested a lot of money in the project. I was paying my wages on credit card and heading towards bankruptcy.
I turned to a group in my network for help and they gave me some vital advice that was so important to hear. They asked if I truly wanted to be in that business. I didn't. They told me that if I didn't believe in the business, no one else would and it was guaranteed to fail.
I took their advice and we changed the direction of the business. Three of that group mentored me and others have done so since as the business has grown substantially every year since. From having a business deep in debt, we are now solvent, profitable and turnover is growing substantially.
We thrive on referrals and recommendations from my network and those introductions have helped me to work in countries across the world and with some of the world's biggest and best known organisations.
My network continues to support me, provide advice and information and offer referrals. There is never a day when I don't turn to someone in my network for help or receive an introduction from someone.
Equally, there is rarely a day when I don't offer advice or referrals to someone else in my network. It's not a one way process.
1. Get to know your market. Who will you be selling to and what is currently motivating them to buy? Who influences them? Do they decide what brands they like based on what certain media say or their friends? Do they prefer to buy online or offline? What social networking sites do they use?
2. Get social. Depending on your research above, get active on the right social media. The most likely sites for the UK consumer market are Twitter and Facebook, unless you have a very specific niche. Be active, be visual and be viral. Post something that people will want to share and engage with.
The golden rule of social media is to engage rather than broadcast, how can you start a conversation with your target audience and get them to talk about you?
3. Attend the relevant trade shows and get to know the key distributors and potential business partners. Don't just turn up in the hope of meeting the right people, research the market first, find out who you need to meet and contact them in advance, arranging to meet them at the trade show.
Keep in touch when you are back in Estonia and focus on building the relationship. Don't just speak to your business partners or potential distributors when you need something. Show an interest in them in the meantime.