Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Standing Out

The trick to standing out in the crowd in your line of business isn't being slick or a smart aleck (we see a lot of people playing the smart aleck online). It's not being controversial or being a shock jock. The trick to standing out from others is being consistent and helpful as you build relationships.

Regardless of what you may have heard, people are still looking for someone to help them; they're still looking for someone that will make them feel safe and secure. I know we have the internet now and people can "educate" themselves on all the products they need, but all the information in the world will never replace a real relationship based on trust, knowledge, and a desire to be helpful.

If you want to stand out in your business, follow these three rules:

1. Communicate consistently
Write a note. Send an e-mail. Send a Tweet. Facebook them. Call on the phone. Drop in to say hello. And when you do any of these, provide something of value.

2. Make yourself available
While I was writing this post, one of my customers called and needed help with a piece of equipment he uses. The manufacturer was short with him on the phone (probably busy), and told him what he needed to do to fix his problem, but he didn't seem like he wanted to help. All I did was let my customer vent, agreed with what the manufacturer suggested he do to fix the issue, and then suggested a couple of other options. Right before he got off the phone he said, "Thank you." I said, "For what? I did do much." He said, "I know, but when I call you I can tell that you really want to help me." Be there when they need you!

3. Build trust
The most important thing you can do in any business is build trust. That means you need to know your stuff, be honest when you don't know your stuff, know what your customer needs, and be honest when you find your product may NOT be the best fit for your customer's needs.

If you follow these three simple rules you'll be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition in no time.

Image: diankarl

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Shut Up, Step Back and Watch

Have you ever seen hyperactive networkers that just HAVE to meet the guy that spoke to the group? It's kind of funny. They kind of shake like a toy poodle as they stand in line to shake the speakers hand, share a few words, and then feel like they really accomplished something.

I just watched a number of fellow Power Breakfast attendees do just that in Charleston. I'm sure many of them were potential suppliers for the company the CEO that spoke runs, just like me. But what good is a quick word or two, the passing of a card, and worse yet; a little bragging about ones self and business going to to do for that networker hoping to make a connection?

Instead of joining the crowd, I did what a good friend, and much more seasoned salesperson told me I should do in situations like this; I kept my mouth shut, stood back and watched. My goal in attending the meeting was to get a good contact name for someone in this CEO's company that I could talk with about my products. I was hoping the CEO would be able to give me this information. But after standing back for a while I noticed a lady that kept attending to all of the CEO's needs. She hovered around him, handed him papers, and and so forth.

No one was paying any attention to her, so I walked up and said, "He keeps you busy doesn't he." With a smile she said, "You have no idea." She then went on to tell me she was the CEO's personal assistant. After we talked about some of her responsibilities, I asked, "Could you help me with a question?" She said she'd try. I then told her I needed to know who to talk to in her organization that would be interested in my products and then told her what I do and how I can help her company. She gave me the name I needed, took my card to pass on to the fellow she asked me to call, and then gave me her card and told me to call her if I needed any more help. Goal met!

Shutting up, standing back, and keeping my eyes open netted me a better contact than the one I went to the breakfast with the intention to meet. Two points to ponder:

1. Don't be so anxious
Take your time when networking.

2. Look around
If you're only focusing on the "target" you came to meet. You may miss out on a great opportunity to meet someone you didn't even realize could help you.

Image: fspugna