Why being your small business advisors pays off in the long run
Guest Contributor: Albert Luk
Albert's Posts - Albert's SiteOne of the running themes of my posts is that achieving true success selling to small businesses involves not merely being a sales person but being an advisor. Entrepreneurs are like Swiss Army Knives- they have to do a lot of different things using the same platform. But with so much going on, not every tool that they have is going to be as sharp as the last one they used.
Thus, they have to rely upon advisors for help. A short-sighted sales representative may think that they do not have time to sell and advise an account. Better to take the money and run right?
Consider this statistic which adds some concreteness to the saying "what goes around, comes around": entrepreneurs who regularly seek professional advice experience 76% higher revenue growth than a counterpart that does not seek professional advice.
To state the obvious, rapidly growing clients are what every account manager dreams of. However, what the study implies is that rapidly growing accounts are not found but, instead, cultivated through active participation in small businesses ready and willing to seek out advisors. The pay-off for all parties appears to be well worth it.
From my own personal experience, I often pursued clients that most other lawyers would not. They were considered too small, in non-traditional growth industries, lacked adequate capitalization etc. etc. However, as a broad generalization, smaller clients with shrewd, albeit broke, management, a willingness to learn and, most of all, a real passion for their business tend to grow exponentially based on a wide range of professional advice (despite its structural issues at start-up).
It is those same clients who I grew with that are also the most loyal and greatest word of mouth referrals. If you are hitting the sales trail and finding no success perhaps it is time to think as an advisor as well as a sales rep. Good luck.
Labels: Albert Luk
It's About Delivering Happiness... (Part 2)
Guest Contributor: Shannon McCaffery
Shannon's Posts - Shannon's Site
"Everything is about the customer experience," exclaimed Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos. I had the ultimate pleasure of hearing him speak at Yanik Silver's Underground 5 Conference, as well as talk to him after his presentation. He's a very inspiring, pragmatic and funny speaker. He had so many gems of wisdom that I almost ran out of room to write them all down. A lot of what he said really hit home for me, especially now with what's happening with businesses and the economy. I believe the philosophy he shared and the philosophy I keep reading about in Dan Kennedy's monthly newsletter will be the keys to companies staying in business. What's that philosophy?
Well it's about the customer and as Tony Hsieh said, "Zappos is about delivering happiness to their door." In his case it's delivering merchandise like shoes and clothing, while building long lasting relationships with their customers and having THE best customer service ever. Their main brand IS customer service. They go above and beyond for their customers. He gave us many awe inspiring stories and some funny ones too. I decided to try out their customer service and they were wonderful. Unfortunately my rescue dog Lily got a hold of my Keens and chewed the closure loop. I called Zappos to see if I could get it fixed or what to do since I purchased the shoes from them. They checked out Keens site and gave me all the info to get them fixed - wow, that was cool.
Here's what I'd recommend for you - ramp up your customer service by doing something special for your customers. Also, stay in their mind by constantly keeping in touch via direct mail, email or the phone. During these times don't be strangers with your customers. Also don't overtly "sell" them either. Ask them in depth questions to try to help them. Find out what they need or what their biggest challenge is right now or what they need help with. Go above and beyond for your customers so they will always remember you. Really show you care and mean it. Send them a gift once a year, food always works (I love Cheryl's cookies!), or send them a gift card or something they would appreciate. During these stress-filled economic times, those that will rise to the top think differently, take risks don't do what everyone else is doing and take good care of your customers.
Another idea is - give them a quick survey, check in on how they're doing and what they need now during this time. I've done several of these for clients and we've received some gems of info that are helping us create new products, and meeting client's needs because we know what those needs are!
Labels: Shannon McCaffery