Why do you need a substitute? Because you’ll be remembered, and you’re therefore more likely to receive referrals. We inferred this when we talked about participation in BNI. In marketing, it takes about seven times for someone to actually notice an ad. It takes about that many times to “be seen” for people in your BNI chapter to start to understand what you do. Substitutes provide a way for you to participate even when you are not physically present.
Who to ask? You should send a substitute that is going to best represent you and your company. For example, a client is probably the best choice. They can share their testimonial as to why they do business with you. Who are some examples of people to consider for ideal substitutes? Your customers, clients, patients, friends, family, people in your referral network, people in your support network, people in your information network and employees. Why? Because they love you and you can give a great testimonial!
Who does NOT make a good substitute? A person who seems to be substituting for someone in the chapter every week or nearly every week. A person who seems to substitute every week, but will not join the chapter.
Substitutes must understand that their primary purpose is to represent the member. If there is a conflict with a member, it is up to YOU to tell your substitute how to present him or herself. A one-time substitute should be treated like a guest. Even though they claim to do the same thing as a member, substitute; present themselves as a new referral source for others in the chapter. It does no harm to the existing member.
Why would you put much effort into getting and training a substitute? Well, because the motto of BNI is… “Givers Gain.” Good for you, good for your substitute. So, dear sales team, what could you do to prepare your substitutes to make them AND you look good?
First of all, have your 60-Second Presentation pre-written. How many of you have one or two already written that you could send at a moment’s notice? I strongly recommend you do that so you can make it easy on yourself when you need a substitute in a hurry. You can e-mail your already-written 60-Second to your substitute.
Always have a substitute (always be represented at the meeting) Best substitutes: clients, eligible guests Bad substitutes: guests with Frequent Flyer mileage (perma- substitutes)
The sooner the better so they feel prepared. Nothing is worse than sending someone into a strange or new situation with little to no preparation time.
Secondly, on the very same e-mail as your 60-Second Presentation, kindly tell your substitute what to expect. Include the name and location of the chapter, a brief overview of the meeting, and if there is a venue fee or any other cost involved. This is not only a wonderful courtesy to our guest; it also helps the meeting run more smoothly and gives your sales team a better idea of who this person is.
Thirdly, a great strategy is to identify a substitute or two and bring them with you to your chapter meeting so when you do need a substitute they are well-prepared and know what to expect.
So, as a quick overview:
- Always have a substitute (always be represented at the meeting)
- Best substitutes: clients, eligible guests
- Bad substitutes: guests with Frequent Flyer mileage (perma- substitutes)
- Visibility (your name is mentioned by your substitute)
- Credibility (you are a “team player” and your substitute sings your
In closing, let me suggest that you know you’re a BNI member if… you can’t attend your favorite niece’s wedding, but it’s okay … you’ve got a good substitute.
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