Who’s Talking?

My good friend Neil Plaister is a brilliant Financial Advisor. He runs a successful IFA practice and he’s never made one cold call.

I was originally referred to Neil and I continue to refer Neil. All of Neil’s business comes from referrals. Over 90% of people referred to him proceed to do business with him. Wow.

Neil is a great guy. He understands his products, his market and his customers inside out. He delivers personal, exceptional service with passion. I know whoever I send Neil’s way will get the same experience. That’s why I continue to do it. I trust him.

The question is who is talking about your offering enough to refer you? Gaining a referral is the most coveted prize in sales. It means you have delivered above and beyond your customers expectations. They trust you and they want their network to trust you too.

Want to win more customers? Start to be like Neil. Start delivering that memorable, exceptional service which is worthy of conversation.

Hit and Hope

My Dad is a very competitive guy. As kids he never used to let us win. It probably explains a few things about the way I am now. Snooker was one of his favourite games; I never used to have much patience for it, still don’t. He used to call all my shots “hit and hope”. Me blasting the cue ball around the table for fun, him cursing and calling it a “fluke” on the very rare occurrence I actually potted one.

How much hit and hope do you do daily? How many appointments are you simply “fluking”? It strikes me so many firms fail to use intelligent, targeted marketing for their offerings, instead opting to shout to the masses hoping something sticks. I’ve witnessed it firsthand. Companies buying in bulk lists, getting salespeople to cold call on the off-chance that someone might actually allow you to appoint them. Internet, phone, TV, radio, the medium doesn’t matter. What matters is the audience.

How relevant is your message to your audience? Are you wasting time on generating generic noise, shouting about stuff that nobody really cares about?

Think about how annoying junk mail is through your door, or worse still a badly timed cold call when you’re watching the football. Think about who really needs your offering and then work out a marketing strategy that’s timely, creative and above all relevant. Forget hit and hope. It’s not sustainable.

Dealing Drugs

Anyone who’s read the fantastic “Rework” by Jason Fried of 37 Signals will hopefully share my view of how inspirational it is. Jason shares his story on how he and his team built a globally successful software company with no outside investment, no real business plan and no ivory tower office.

In the chapter titled “Promotion” Jason makes reference to drug dealers. He comments that products should be so good, so addictive, that your customers always come back for more. He suggests giving away small, free tasters so that clients return smiling, with cash in hand.

It’s an interesting concept. I grew my business in the corporate IT world; selling high-value, complex IT solutions. In the early days, we witnessed competitors focusing all their efforts on that one golden-ticket deal per year, only for it to end in tears when it didn’t come in. We decided to take a different approach.
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Moving with the Times

Understanding what your customer needs, not just what you create is a fundamental aspect of long-term growth and success. Think about what you are offering. Is it special? Is it unique in today’s market? Has it evolved over time? The world has changed; businesses need to change with it.

Customers want new ideas. Ideas which challenge the status quo and give them the competitive edge. Pushing product, in an old fashioned sales approach doesn’t cut it in today’s world. Be creative and innovative in every angle – Your marketing, your product, your service, your approach. Delivering what you’ve always done, simply because it worked ten years ago is a dangerous game.

Waiting in Line

Grabbing a quick sandwich from the local supermarket at lunchtime is never fun. The chances are there are not enough tills open. Not enough staff. Zero sense of urgency.

The majority of us loathe to wait. Especially if we are in a hurry.

It was my Mum’s birthday yesterday. Like the good son I am, I chose to send her some flowers. Using Interflora’s fantastic website, the whole transaction was completed and paid for in minutes. All without leaving the comfort of my office. The flowers turned up in perfect condition. On time, exactly as I wanted. She was delighted and I was a happy customer guaranteed to return.
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Bacon and Eggs

I’ve just got back from a fantastic lazy Sunday morning breakfast at my local cafe. There are plenty of cafes where I live. Plenty of choice for any hungry consumer on a sunny Sunday morning.

However, when I’m at home, I wouldn’t ever spend my Sunday mornings at any other place. Why?

Because it’s the nearest? No. Because it’s the cheapest? No.
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