Define and Grow Your Sphere - Part One
The term “sphere” might be the most overused term in sales and marketing literature. For some, the sphere is represented by one’s immediate friends and for others it is someone’s previous customers. In reality, your sphere includes these elements and much more. It is when we define the sphere in the right way that we actually find out how important our sphere actually is with regard to our marketing plan. In the long-run, our sphere should be the basis or foundation of this plan.
First, what is one’s sphere? A sphere is comprised of those you who know and you know them as well. Put it this way–if you were walking down the street and passed someone–would you say hello? If you would, they are part of your sphere. In addition to this relationship component, there is also a component of commonality. There are those you don’t know, but with whom you have something in common.
For example, let’s say you go to church or temple. There may be 500 families and 1000 members of the group. You probably know 50 of these people because you live near them, sit near them or even have served on committees with them. But there are 950 people that you don’t know whom are part of the sphere. The “commonality” component adds the largest numbers to your sphere while the relationship component adds the most important individuals to your sphere.
Now that we have defined the sphere, let us look at the specific components of a sphere. In all, there are seven all-important segments of one’s personal sphere–
Friends, family and neighbors. This part of your sphere is comprised of those with whom you have the closest relationship. Covey would say that you have built up an “emotional” bank account. This can be the most important segment of the sphere because the members have a vested interest in helping you succeed. And many times it is under-utilized because call reluctance keeps some from calling on the personal segment of the sphere.
Previous customers. This segment of the sphere is well defined in practice and literature. Sometimes this segment is interchangeable with the term sphere. There are many “customer relationship management” (CRM) programs available to help sales and business people keep track of and deliver value to this segment. One important point–if you are new in your present industry, be sure to include the previous customers from your previous industry. These are people you have served and with whom you have developed a relationship. Starting with these customers puts you on “second base” instead of home plate.
Present and previous co-workers. This segment would include everyone you have worked with in this industry and previous industries. Many have worked with hundreds of different people. You may have helped someone start a career. Perhaps you have promoted someone. These relationships can be turned into dollars because you have good will built up. If you work in an industry where turnover is rampant among sales personnel (for example, as a real estate agent or loan officer), every time someone leaves the industry the sphere they have built up disappears unless you take the initiative to work with them and turn them into a referral source. In reality the group of “previous practitioners” makes a great referral source because they are familiar with screening prospects and they are known as having expertise in the industry. In other words, don’t let your previous peers from this profession or your previous profession go untapped.
Previous prospects. Previous prospects are important for two reasons. First, if they choose not to do business with you, they might change their mind sometime in the future. Perhaps they decided not to purchase at all. Keeping in touch with this segment is essential.
On the other hand, there are prospects that you were not able to help because of one reason or another. Perhaps they had bad credit or no savings. You should be referring these people to those who can help them (perhaps credit counselors) so they are more likely to become clients in the future. Those who receive your referrals that are comprised of those you can’t help are helping you with your future business and can become important referral source on their own. It is said that “someone’s garbage is someone else’s treasure.”
As you are reading this article, your eyes should be opening wider as you see your sphere expanding in scope. And, we are only half-way through our definition. Stay tuned for the next segment.