Then How about Nominating a Client for an Award…
Or Finding Out What the Clients of your Clients Want
Any sales organization worth its salt should be looking for ways to grow closer to their client base. I don’t care what anyone has told you about the reason why people actually buy stuff—I can tell you that people like to buy from people they like and … trust.
Now if you like and admire your clients in turn, it occurred to me, why not nominate one (or more) of them for an Award. In this town (Ottawa, Canada), there are lots of awards given out every year—OBJ gives out their 40 Under 40 Awards and Exploriem.org (where full disclosure requires that I tell you that I am their ED) gives out 10 Bootstrap Awards every year. Then there are the OCRI Awards, the Ottawa Tourism Awards, CEO of the Year, Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Awards, Indo Canada Chamber of Commerce Awards, Consumer Choice Awards, Capital Educator’s Awards (one of which I won in 2002), Governor General’s Awards for the Performing Arts, Ottawa Sports Awards, IEEE Canada Awards, United Way Ottawa’s Community Builder of the Year Awards, OCHBA Awards and many, many more.
Now part of your sales job is to think not only about your clients but also about your clients’ clients. You and they are part of a business ecosystem. Now what do your clients’ clients want? They want to like and trust your client just as much as you do. How can you increase their trust level? Well, it can’t hurt if your client is an award winning business or person, right?
Who would you rather buy from? Someone who was nominated for and won the award for, say, OBJ (Ottawa Business Journal) CEO of the Year or Joe Schmoe?
So when you are thinking about your organization and your clients’ organizations as part of an ecosystem, you should do everything you can to help your clients increase their sales because that’s the surest way to increase your sales. Fast growing customers mean faster growth for you. The surest path to faster sales for your clients is to improve the level of trust that their clients have for them. Winning awards can be part of that equation. Even nominating them will draw you closer together.
Now let’s look at the other side of your business model—your supply side. Readers of this blog will already know that I believe that your AP (Accounts Payable) should be a source of clients for you—i.e., people should buy from people they sell to. When I was with the Sens (NHL team the Ottawa Senators) I used to ask if the plumber who came to fix the w/c or the painter who redid one of our offices was also a season ticket holder. If not, I would ask, “Why not?”
Reverse selling means that your Comptroller is (or should be) part of your sales team; i.e., your AP is a great source of leads.
But it also means that your suppliers should be working hard to find ways to make you more successful (including nominating you for an Award of some kind as long as it is deserved and authentic). If they are not a real part of your ‘team’, you need new suppliers who really care, one way or the other, about you.
There is a wider context to this story; that is, there are more ways to make your clients more successful than just nominating them for an award or two.
Working with a spa some years ago, I asked them to tell me more about their clients. Their answer was: mostly professional women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Then I asked them: “Who are your clients’ clients?” They didn’t know.
The obvious answer was: “Men.”
Then I added: “What do men want from your clients?”
Apart from the obvious answer, it turned out they also wanted gift certificates from the spa to give to their clients. The spa introduced those for the first time about six weeks before Xmas and sold more than $200,000 worth.
So it pays to ask the question: “What do the clients of your clients want?”
To an extent that might surprise you, fuller understanding of your business model as well as identifying and exploiting relationships amongst the many players in your ecosystem, can only be discovered.
There are many things in the launch of a new enterprise or in its execution that cannot be planned in advance. You must be open to serendipity and opportunity wherever it may appear and you must apply your mind and body to their discovery.
This adventure will be greatly helped along by asking the right questions (like: “What do your clients’ clients want?”) and waiting for either your conscious mind or subconscious to provide the answers. Of course, all your answers might well come from the outside– they are there in the ‘ether’ just waiting for you to discover them.
This is also why you can’t just talk about what you are going to do. You have to launch your new venture because so much of what you will actually do is made up as you go along.
It’s also one of the things that so frustrates people who do business with entrepreneurs (or, Heaven help them, are married to them.) Bankers, investors, lawyers, accountants, consultants, funders, marketers and suppliers do not really like change and often think that altering course is a sign that the entrepreneur doesn’t know what s/he is doing. In fact, fast pivoting where called for is one of the greatest strengths of an entrepreneurial company.