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Are you making the most of your Sphere of Influence?

26 June 2011

You have a new product or service to offer and you need to get to a decision maker in order to market this effectively.  What are you going to do?  It’s not always easy to reach your target audience and this is true regardless of what market you are in.  You could go through a number of channels to reach the decision maker and this can be very time consuming and, at times, tedious too.   What happens when you reach the decision maker and the enthusiasm you have for your service or your product is not shared?   The decision maker declines your efforts and you are back to square one.

Have you heard of the term ‘Sphere of Influence?’  Consider going after your sphere of influence instead of directly to the decision maker.   This method is helpful in two ways: 

1.  This could produce for you a warm introduction to the decision maker from an internal source. 

2.  It will give the decision maker the opportunity to use his own sphere of influence for support or advice. 

There is nothing better than a personal recommendation.  If you can get the sphere of influence on your side, you have a greater chance of getting the decision maker on your side as well.  This can assist in reducing costs on attracting new clients and gives you the opportunity to concentrate on repeat and referral business from clients and customers who already know you

So, what is your sphere of influence?  This is the group of people that surround you and give you advice or ideas on various topics.   Your friends, family, and co-workers are perfect examples of spheres of influence.    Think about it, if you are looking for the perfect venue for a special function or romantic dinner, you may ask your friends what they recommend.  If you are looking to transition jobs or move to a new company you may ask your colleagues or ex-colleagues for advice.  If you are thinking about moving house, moving city or need advice on investments or who would be a reliable plumber, you may ask a family member or friend.  All of these people make up your sphere of influence and these people are crucial because they shape you who are, what you purchase, who you choose to provide a service, and how you live may your life.

Similarly, in a corporate environment, decision makers have their own spheres of influence, usually colleagues and professional acquaintances.   If you find that it is difficult to get directly to the decision maker then begin building relationships with the sphere (www.linkedin.com is a great way to see who your sphere (or network) could link you to the decision maker’s sphere of influence.  

Building relationships does not mean a ‘hard sell’ and trying to pitch a product to everyone in the sphere.   This means building relationships with them.  You could offer to take out a contact to coffee or offer some interesting information or article to another contact who may appreciate the suggestion.  Usually there are co-decision makers that could influence the ultimate decision maker.  Build a relationships with them and then THEY will introduce you to the decision makers.   If you can get can someone within the sphere to get excited about a product or a service, then you have a much better shot at getting the decision maker excited about your product or service as well.  It takes a number of touch points before you get someone’s ‘buy in’ of your offering.  They may hear about it, read about it, see it however as soon as they get a recommendation about it as well then serious consideration will happen. 

Keep the following in mind when marketing to your sphere of influence:

1.    The more personal your contact and the more effort you put into it, the longer and stronger the feeling of reciprocity will be.
2.    You are not the only one marketing to them.
3.    Nothing takes the place of a phone call or personal contact.
4.    When you miss out on the business it is business, not personal.
5.    Continue to foster relationships rather than ‘making the sale’ – if the relationship is good, and the product or service is excellent, once the relationship is developed and the recommendations start to flow, the business will follow.

Jane is Director of Style Success and provides career coaching and image management consulting to organizations and individuals.  For more information: www.stylesuccess.biz or email:  jane@stylesuccess.biz

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2 comments

  • Jane Jackson

    Jane Jackson 7 years ago

    Thank you for your comment Judy - you are absolutely right! When it comes to successfully promoting a small business our network is of vital importance. The greater the number of individuals who know what we do, and what we have to offer, the greater the likelihood of gaining a recommendation when the time is right. Mutual respect and support benefits us all in the long term. I find that about 70-80% of my consulting work comes from referrals from my Sphere of Influence and the rest from the use of social media and my regular coaching newsletter.

  • Judy West

    Judy West 7 years ago

    What you say is so simple Jane, yet so important for small business people to understand. We do not have the luxury of the big advertising budget but we have what big business cannot buy - a network of contacts, or a Sphere Of Influence.It is imperative that we use our contacts and encourage them to use us to break into markets otherwise closed to us.