What is the role of technology in fostering new business relationships? That is the question faced by sales professionals from across the country. Soliciting business in this new economy can be a daunting task. All too often, sales professionals are left asking what is the best way to introduce your services to a potential new client and under what circumstances.
One such tool is the online business card. Gone are the days of a simple rectangular business card. These days, sales professionals are taking their business cards to the virtual world. With several online tools available to create your own online business card, you will never be left saying, “Sorry, I’m out of business cards.”
According to Valerie Jones, General Manager of eCommerce for Grand & Toy, there are many tools like online business cards available to make the first contact more effective. “For instance, websites like LinkedIn, ZoomInfo and Google, have provided sales professionals with an opportunity to better understand the potential client. They act as prospecting and research tool that allows you to qualify and understand the customer’s needs prior to the cold call. Business cards are not dead; they have become more sophisticated.”
Mark Jeffries, communications consultant, presentation coach, and keynote speaker is also a firm believer in embracing online social networking tools like online business cards. “Your online brand is as important as your physical personal brand. You have to ensure that you have all the relevant details on what you have to offer online so that when others search, they
find you first,” said Jeffries. Gone are the days of simply a phone number and e-mail address on a business card. He said, “Several online networking tools provide you with a valuable opportunity to engage an entirely new crowd, to sell yourself online. All of which are too in-depth to include on a simple paper business card.”
An online business card is a living, breathing entity and Jeffries believes it must be grown, nurtured, and fed. “It’s essential to keep your online information both current and informative. It’s equally important to always keep your communication short with some added value,” Jeffries explained. Asking someone to meet to explore opportunities via online business
cards accomplishes very little. “You need to provide valuable information to a prospective client such as a website link that could help their business. Doing so will, earn you a ‘payback credit’ and persuade them to meet you in person. By ‘giving’ something first, you earn the opportunity to win the business.”
All that being said, Jones and Jeffries agree that face-to-face credentials are still the best avenue to synch your product or service with a qualified prospect. “Sales teams and sales professionals should embrace the new channels of communications or risk becoming irrelevant,” said Jones. “Tangible results will always come from embracing new tools like online business cards and selling yourself during an in-person meeting.” Like his industry counterpart, Jeffries agrees that nothing replaces meeting in person. “The only way to feed your network is through regular contact during meetings. It’s here that you pick up all of the other essential signals and visual cues that go into the mix when creating solid, long-lasting relationships.”