One of my pet peeves is the use of the Rolodex. In many cases it is not been used effectively as an important business tool. And now in the modern era, the Rolodex has been further reduced to little more than an electronic repository for business cards.
For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a Rolodex is a rotating file device used to share business contact information. However, to clarify for this article, I consider the Rolodex, business card file, CRM and other Contact lists to be synonymous.
In the corporate world, I had to frequently listen to executives brag about their “Who’s Who” list of contacts and the size of their Rolodex, as if this somehow made them appear to be more important. However, when it came down to helping a sales team with an executive introduction, closing a sale or resolving a customer issue, their Rolodex of business contacts was rarely of any value.
A few years ago, I met with a Director of Business Development candidate who began the interview by telling me that he had a Rolodex of over 2,000 businesses. I said, “that’s great … now tell me how many of those businesses you could call right now, get an appointment in the next week and close a sale in the next 30 days if you were offered this position?”
You get the point. Your Rolodex is of little to no value unless it helps you build great relationships, grow your business and make money.
So, how do you turn your Rolodex into CASH?
- Purge your existing Rolodex of all business contacts that are not currently active. This will help you narrow your focus and put more emphasis on those relationships that are central to your business growth and future success.
- Don’t add new contacts to your Contacts list until you have established a positive, ongoing business relationship with that person. I would underscore the words positive and ongoing — no energy vampires or “one-hit wonders” allowed!
- Limit your business contacts to 4 or 5 specific areas – clients, partners, suppliers, vendors and “other”. This will help you to prioritize and eliminate the clutter.
- Establish group categories in Outlook, as an example, to make it easier to access and retrieve business contact lists by category designation, as needed.
- Maintain frequent communication with all active contacts (i.e. 7 Touches) in order to build on those ongoing relationships.
- Retain all remaining business cards you have accumulated for future use, but separate them from your active Rolodex contacts. Stay in contact with this group periodically via your blog, newsletter, prospect mailings, product announcements, etc., to source new opportunities.
Much the same as networking, developing an effective Rolodex or Contacts list(s) you can turn into cash is about building great relationships, not stockpiling business cards. Your prospect database, email and vendor lists are more appropriate placeholders for this additional stored information.
Constructing your Rolodex in this manner will help you to put more emphasis on the customer, partner and supplier relationships that are integral to your success, while turning your Rolodex into CASH today.
Do you have any sales strategies to turn your Rolodex into CASH? Comment below and let’s discuss.
Learn more on this important topic at one of the largest digital marketing conferences for 2015!