At my core, I am most certainly a marketing strategist. It is my passion. It is what makes me tick. However as a business owner, I must also be developing new clients all the time if we want to grow. You can hire great sales people, but if the principals of a business cannot manage relationships and bring in new accounts, the business will likely struggle in the long term.
Late in 2015, I started to think about what our firm could do differently in the New Year. We are on track to have a banner year, so I decided to try and “peak on a peak.”
I started watching how other industries sell to me. I thought I may learn some valuable lessons. And I did. What I came to realize is that I am often giving my time (which I consider VERY valuable) away for free or even PAYING someone to sell to me. I lose an hour of my day with each meeting.
My first point of contention was my hair dresser. I spend 90 minutes a month in her chair and spend about $100.00 with each visit. I also noticed I am literally paying to sit through an infomercial of her products. STOP! I am paying for this time!
I have a good relationship with this woman who practices magic on me each month so I was nice, but upfront. ”Karen, I am paying for this time and you have never heard about my business. And rather than getting sold products, I would like to talk about who comes here for services.” She was great about it. I have since received leads and landed several new projects and in return, I have sent her two of my friends to become customers of her salon.
So, beginning in 2016, I have started to require this trade. Yes, I will see you about leasing a new copier should we need one, but will require you bring me a lead. Who do you currently work with that may be in use of my company’s services? You want me to consider changing my office cleaning service? Sure. But prepare to share a client contact with me before you roll out that price sheet.
How is it going? Since November, it has generated a strong lead about 30% of the time, but has been to my benefit 100% of the time. There have been two reactions. “Sure, Betsy. I will give it some thought and come prepared to share.” Or, “What do you mean? We don’t work that way. We just want to be a benefit and share our product with your company.” A lead is the price of admission. Those don’t want to share don’t get a meeting. In these cases, I save an hour or more of my time, and that works for me too.
Those that do provide a tip have most likely turned in to people I plan to meet with again this year. I am much more interested in what they have to say and what they are selling. These are business cards I keep.
Certainly, there are exceptions. You really cannot do this with the vendor- partners you need to service your clients. However, the people that want me to sell me services such as insurance, printers or office supplies etc. come prepared! You now have to pay to play. Everybody wins and no one feels like they just lost an hour of their day.
We are all focused on the same goal. Let’s help each other have a great 2016!
-Betsy McCloskey, Partner/Principal