Your story?

So, what’s your story?

How do you, stick in the mind?

All around us, media often appears full of ‘stuff’ designed ~ just for you ~ right at ‘peak times,’ perhaps the ‘stuff’ hits you just before you jump in the car and head off to the office … over the car radio, during lunch break, the commute home maybe. Everywhere there are stories to stick in your face so that it’s stuck in your mind.

So, the way I see it, being sticky can be useful if we are to be successful in business life. Business/life, closely aligned, right?

Think about how people remember you. What do they recall of you when next you catch up or more importantly when they meet up with mutual friends at the regular network soirée?

Being a witness to the conversation, would it be something you’d expect? Are you remembered as being the best that you can be?

The thing is, every interaction we have with someone leaves an impression, sometimes a lasting one. So for me (I know this is also true for many of my close friends), it’s important that MY STORY is a faithful representation of what others expect of me, each time we meet up.

Why? Because each of us is our own mini media outlet.

‘What?’ I hear you say, just hang on a minute, bear with me for a second …

It’s true. What kind of sticky are you? What stories do you conjure, what memories evoked, how do people see you in their life? It’s just the same as that current ‘hot’ company vying for your time and attention before you’ve even ordered the best-ever morning coffee and … the cake!

Showing kindness on a regular basis is important. Agreed. Love? That’s a no-brainer for me as well, but in today’s ‘circus’ of life … if we are to really embrace the power of relationships, affinity and trust let’s leave the right messages out there. Better still, let’s ensure our closest allies see our true colours and have every chance of passing the message that YOU and your story are that which is best remembered, most easily referred.

Now, I understand

I know what he’s thinking, I understand now.

How often have you thought to yourself … I know, just by looking into their eyes, what he or she is thinking, by simply observing body language.

Have you ever said to yourself:

 ‘I wish I had the words?’

Only to find out that none were required, a simple action was enough. Whether that’s a nod or a shake of the head, we understand on an intimate level at times where words are simply not required.

This moment of telepathy usually occurs with those you know particularly well. It may be a partner, child or even a pet and more often than not this moment of instantaneous understanding between humans is overlooked as simply ‘co-incidence.’

Wouldn’t it be fabulous if world leaders could communicate, engage and mutually understand through telepathy? If people had the time and ability to express how they truly felt if the population could send messages straight to the top without the diatribe and red tape that confines the clarity of sanity…

Fleeting moments of profound communication are wonderful for the soul and are just as essential for the business to understand don’t you think?

So, Ben had been having troubles with his presentations. Or he thought he was having trouble … he felt the message just wasn’t coming out of his mouth.

‘So much to say and unable to say it.’

Take your time to deliver Ben, be specific when offering the message, presentation jitters come to all of us at some point and although we have not yet mastered the telepathic message as some have with text or email, once people understand that you are comfortable and wholly committed to your cause, your message will soon become clear.

It is then we find that people do business with who they understand, those they know, like and trust … almost telepathically.

Assume, you could be right

A quarter of the year almost gone and micro-business Dave was asking me what he had to do to gain more clients.

Here’s a starter check-list for you Dave …

Have you approached prospects with your offer?

‘Offer?’ Came the reply.

‘I’ve a website Charlie and I’ve made sure I’ve covered my social media outlets if that’s what you mean by offer?’

Dave, you cannot assume that all of your new business is coming to you via a virtual presence alone. You need to first of all know the target audience and whether there is a need for your particular services.

‘Yes, I know that already.’ I heard

You also need to know who the budget holder is …

‘Well I’d find out if I had the opportunity!’

‘Look, it seems like a lot of hard work Charlie, I’ve put a lot of time and invested a lot of capital into creating the online presence.’

‘I’m thinking of a letterbox drop for leaflets next …’

Dave, the assumption that new business is making it’s way to your door simply because you now have a ‘singing and dancing’ website is fanciful to say the least … letterbox drop?

‘Yes, I’m printing a couple of thousand and delivering them myself.’

Steady Dave, great effort and it does bring the reward. Take the next step though and introduce the world to you, the person.

Meet the people. Then use your new-found leverage. Engage those in business who take the time to know you, who then view the website before being inspired with the confidence and trust to arrange a meeting with you and your next best client.

That’s why they call it a network Dave, you need to work the net to gain the business.

You with me Dave?

I assume Dave was listening …

It’s just not for you!

I pulled up a chair …

George had suggested that networking just wasn’t his style, he was adverse to ‘breaking the ice’ with those he hadn’t met before and being ‘nice’ just because … and the whole ‘first-date’ scenario left him less than warm …

Getting out of the comfort zone is just not for me Charlie, I’m comfortable here with comfortable.”

‘I’m not entirely sure face to face networking is relevant. Besides, all the new business is on-line now anyway. I can strike up a conversation with anyone I so desire, I connect and like and in turn get liked by all kinds of people with the same interests I have without even meeting them!’

I asked George if he’d like to grow his customer list, if he was still in the market for more business?

Charlie, we have a whole bunch of customers and when they’re busy the company is busy so no, I’m not really looking to grow my database. The networking breakfast sounds fantastic though!”

George had a well established company providing an on-line service and had been growing ‘organically’ over the years – all by ‘word of mouth.’

‘So, are you happy where you are with the business George?’ I asked.

Sure Charlie. It gets a little isolated now and again from where I sit now but in the main I’m content.’

I like George, he’d been around about as long as I had, worked on the business with the right people, understood the referral business enough to know the value of the right connection but now he was ‘comfortable, being comfortable.’

I can see why you inhabit the network though Charlie,” said George …

I know you value the input from others, hearing about their business, the advice and mutual support and direction. Not to mention the diversity and mentor opportunity – and yeah, that breakfast does sound good; but hey, does that really drive you to get out of bed at that time of day?”

‘It’s not the breakfast George, I’m just naturally nosey …’

I couldn’t bring myself to remind George of the ‘organic business by referral growth’ his own business had enjoyed and thrived on over the years. Sure, structured networking relies on your input and what you bring to the room. Networking is about desire, the attitude and your understanding of the value people bring to the business.

George, despite his delight at the thought of a fine network breakfast, had simply lost his appetite.

Like George, if you are comfortable with the bottom line then that’s one reason networking may not be for you but for a whole host of reasons regular face to face networking really is still relevant as we understand why ‘people buy from people.’

Follow in the footsteps

It wasn’t a planned stay, we happened to react to an invitation – perhaps because we were at the right place/right time, we were available. Our hosts here in Broome were planning on a 4500km road trip next morning to Brisbane and were looking for a house-sitter:

“Here you go Charlie, take the keys. Look after the house for us. The spare car is yours and the ‘cold ones, are in the fridge!”

Next morning, at dawn Gail and Rob disappeared Eastbound. I can vividly remember standing on the drive … ‘next time.’

Broome lies 1500km North of Perth, has a residential population of around 15k, swelling to three times that during the Tourist season of which we were the latest two. After a couple of days we’d had enough of the beach life and the understated hospitality when dear wife decided that now was a good time to apply a little ‘retail therapy.’

The local Mall, accompanying traders and souvenir shops had been assessed and quickly dismissed as ‘nothing special’ and as we put the feet up and away from the afternoon sunshine plans were being laid for an alternative ‘therapy.’

Then a voice from the other side of the fence …

‘You need to visit Maeve. Maeve and Dave, just down the road!’

Our ‘neighbour’ had overheard our conversation and suggested there may be a suitable spot to visit, ‘just down the road.’

Helpful she thought. Nosey I’d suggested. So with about 40 minutes drive in mind, we made plans for the next excursion.

We set off early, the mercury was at 30 degrees celsius and climbing with the only obstacles anticipated being a diversion past the local crocodile ‘refuge’ and the mandatory hostile farmer … we eventually found our way.

More a homestead than a retail destination I climbed out of the car and proceeded to assist Mrs K … just as baying hounds were heard and observed, galloping single-mindedly straight toward us.

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With much fuss we soon found out these hounds were more a welcome party as we were soon introduced to Dave, perched high on the veranda with a big smile and a very welcome ‘cold one’ already on offer.

My wife continued through the door and was immediately browsing. ‘This is nice ..’

‘Be with you in just a minute ..’ came a voice.

‘That’d be Maeve?’ I asked.

It was some ten minutes before Maeve appeared, by which time Dave and I were indulging a second ‘glass.’ Sue and Maeve had themselves struck up an understanding over a favoured Chardonnay and I clearly noticed that dear wife had now progressed from ‘browsing’ to ‘selecting.’

We spent time with the lovely Maeve and Dave. Sue was happy and as we proceeded to move toward our ‘wheels’ I couldn’t help but ask …

‘How did you manage to have the dogs offer such a unique welcome?’

To which Maeve replied:

‘Our dogs know that customers keep them fed. Our dogs offer a welcome to each car and guide them to the house … in exchange for their favoured snack of the day of course.’

‘Nice touch.’ I thought to myself.

We said our goodbyes and headed back to Broome and couldn’t help but discuss what we’d experienced.

Maeve and Dave had moved out of the ‘city centre’ some years before. Their aim was to provide a service that offered more. A customer ‘journey’ – literally.

Not budget. More exclusive with ‘bells on’ and with the added value. The offer is quality, it’s unique and it’s hand-in-hand with exceptional customer service together with their own ready made referral source …

‘you need to visit Maeve …’  I recalled

Personal recommendation. Nothing beats it.

Some weeks passed when Sue and I returned home from our visit to West Australia.

The usual post covered the hallway and amongst it all I noticed a postcard. It was from Maeve and it read:

Dear Sue and Charlie …

Thank you for coming to visit, we really appreciated your custom, lovely to meet you.”

regards Maeve, Dave.

To understand where we should position ourselves in business we need to observe. Observe what it may be our customers really want and work out how we can provide this.

Follow in the footsteps of our potential customers, then ask:

Can we confidently refer our own business?

Leap year – pop the question

It is well documented that our business population spends a whole lot more time online than predecessors. We know this already.

‘That’s a no-brainer! Tell us another one.’ I hear you say.

Many of us understand that the personal connection is vital, that’s why were driven to add/like/share and participate. Essentially though, the real business transactions either work or fail with the follow-up, personal engagement – when we pop the question.

So how do we initiate personal interaction, connecting with the real decision makers? What methods do we utilise to gain interest?
Are we seeking to engage others with beneficial information? Probably. Demonstration of affinity? Likely.

Engaging with the appointment in mind? Perhaps not.

How much business time is spent on line, window-shopping and wondering how to engage for a meeting? Hey, I’m not saying this is not the way to go – there is plenty of proof also that most online ‘connections’ are a result of qualified common ground, soft canvassing pre-qualification although rarely does this create substantial business entirely on it’s own … unless of course the person to person meeting materialises.

In reality though, geography and logistics combine to mean we’re unable to perform the one to one … nothing the matter with prospecting, good business takes time …

Video link is one way of gaining face-to-face engagement with your potential ‘next best customer’ and video offers the chance to deliver your message – in person – to the key person who is able to take your offer to an even greater audience.

Are you confident on live link? If the answer is no, then you shall need to practice those online presentation skills, because until we are fully adept at using direct link video messaging you won’t trust the technology, you shall not appear credible or trustworthy to the potential client and the whole exercise is lost, your confidence is gone also. Trust.

Each of us has a particular personal skill, a vastly under-utilised skill that in today’s peer-led, trust conscious, cost factored, connections-led online world is often overlooked.

Qualification and engagement are great groundwork but when looking for meaningful results we need to ‘pop the question,’ ask for the appointment.

Why not make plans next month to use your personal skills and get out more? Visit those geographically accessible prospects you’ve cultivated on line and – pop the question – make those strategic appointments and leave the office behind (unless you’ve no choice but to take it with you.)

Take some time building trust and doing some business in person, with real people. Because in today’s business world, business IS personal.

Sales not selly sales

It wasn’t so long ago I was supporting a small manufacturing company with a team of sales people, offering my own direction and advise in the wiles of what some have called ‘the black art sales through sustained relationships.’

We’d have Monday morning sales meetings to determine business forecasts, the order input and we’d generally ‘mull over’ the business model, from the success to the not so successful.

The regular meetings gave us unity, insight and the opportunity for development.

Our priority during these times was regular contact with our clients. As it remains today. We routinely made daily calls and regular in-person visits to engage our clients and offer our expertise and support. The journey to and from clients premises wasn’t a wasted journey either – this was the time for the ‘cold call.’

We’d encourage each to stop the vehicle, get out and knock on doors for engagement with the intention of introduction for future business.

Why drive past an opportunity, after all?

If the time wasn’t right to talk sales with the decision maker we’d try booking for a future meeting or at least seek the contact details and follow up through telephone calls or post.

We found that our prospects actively supported these personal engagements.

The regular visits with ‘real people’ work and all that time ago those calls made a huge difference to business and set us apart from many of our competitors.

It’s a little like our structured networking @weeklybusiness. The familiar, trusted face of the professional in the room offering their support when and as required. No sales required.

This is how I do business, how about you …

What sets you apart?

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