Normally; I am a fan of thinking and dreaming BIG. But when it comes to the type of business most people own (millions of businesses with less than 100 employees), it sometimes helps to think small in certain areas in order to grow. The ‘small’ I am referring to is in building relationships with the right kinds of people/organizations – the one or two who will effortlessly help you grow.

What can just one or two of the right people do?
One restaurant reviewer can essentially bless or curse each new restaurant that opens its doors by sending waves of followers towards or away from places with a single post of less than 500 words.

I know of a manufacturer who let go of all but 3 of their distributors and reinvested half of that newly freed time to developing a quality relationship with those remaining. After just one year, sales are up about 15%, profit margin has increased nearly 5% and stress levels across entire team are WAY down!

While selling luxury and boutique hair products exclusively to private salons, I witnessed a similar positive effect of this phenomenon. During a sales call to a certain prospect, I made a simple offer to purchase a tester (for less than $50) that was accepted. Within 2 hours of its delivery, the owner was not only ready to place a $5,000 order (one that he has continued to support for over 5 years), but gave me referrals over several months to other salon owners who acted similarly. With that one introduction, I was able to nearly triple my sales and earned an 8-day, all expenses paid, tour through Italy.

Over the years, I continued to apply this strategy in a variety of circumstances and situations with tremendous success.

If we apply the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule), we’ll understand that 80% of our sales comes from only 20% of our customers. We should then focus our efforts on determining who that top 20% is… what they look like… how they operate… and what we can do to attract more of them. The best part is that we don’t even need that many – like the stories above, often one or two is enough to bring significant growth.

In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell introduces us to concepts of Connectors – those who know a large number of people and are accustomed to making introductions; Mavens – specialists in a particular field whom we look to for the newest, latest, and greatest; and Salesmen – those with charisma and who often persuade, encourage, or negotiate with us to try something new. These people exist everywhere, and successful launches of both products and businesses depend on the blessings of each of these types of people.

Though the principles work with businesses of all sizes; the advantage we (as independent business owners) have over the huge corporations is that our key contacts are significantly less expensive to identify and communicate with, not to mention their experience is easier to manage. It’s so easy that you probably already know them from the neighborhood, church, or kids carpool lane. It’s now time to introduce some strategy to the relationship.

I encourage you to get and read the book, and identify ideal Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen for your business. Then set out to connect with each of them to seek out strategic partnerships. Feel free to share your stories here.

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