While overall spending and business profits were down in 2009 and somewhat flat in 2010, as the economy starts to rebound, the building of relationships in our marketplace should be at an all-time high, especially for service providers, conference sponsors and exhibiters. What seemed like downtime or recession, was and is, an opportunity to increase our ability to position ourselves as critical resources in the minds of our industry clients, customers and stakeholders.
When we participate in an industry event we as service providers need to realize it is to help our clients and prospects recognize that as speakers, sponsors and exhibitors we have to help attendees cross the bridge to understand how we are both resources and solutions to some of the challenges organizations deal with every day.
Service providers must constantly reinforce in the minds of the attendees, why they make the decisions to buy our value proposition month in, and month out. This begs a huge question that every company needs to answer: Why should participants do business with my company?
Traditionally, customers want to make sure the service providers are adding value in delivering their services. So make sure that you satisfy these desires/ needs:
- Customers need to feel that service providers really are part of their community and can help them deal with challenges unique to their profession.
- Customers are typically looking to their service providers to give cutting-edge intelligence so they can be a step or two ahead of their competition.
- Customers need their service providers to do what I call “heavy lifting” in the profession by making them aware of pitfalls in the industry based on quantitative research, to keep them from encountering pitfalls on their journey toward success. Use similar situation scenarios to accomplish this.
RPG has worked with many organizations to help them with both leadership and revenue growth. We constantly preach the need to touch customers and prospective customers on a regular basis.
How many times have you lost a hot lead wanted to know why? In my book, The Million Dollar Rainmaker, I address this issue by emphasizing the need to “touch” suppliers, customers and prospective customers on an ongoing basis.
I always say that 80% of your revenue and growth will come from 20% of your existing customers and suppliers. Eighty percent of your results come from 20% of your efforts, and 80% of your business will come from 20% of the people you work with now, or have worked with in the past. This said, it becomes imperative that we are “touching” this group of folks on a regular basis.
Most people will quit touching their prospects after about five attempts. The fact is that after five times, only 20% of the people will make a decision about your services. But if you make a persistent, systematic effort to touch them 12 to 16 times, the percentage goes up significantly to about 70%, depending on the quality of your relationship and what you are touching them with. Relationship building in this industry is critical. You probably will not get business after just one date, one conference or one touch.
In the Million Dollar Rainmaker parable, I liken our relationships with our customers and suppliers to the relationship someone has with a horse. In the book, the sage, Benjamin, tells his protégé that horses are typically afraid of humans. But every time we brush and groom them, we are touching them and creating trust. In return, they do not crush us. Our customers are like that horse. Customers crush us by choosing not to do business with us, or by forgetting about us as a valuable resource when they have to make crucial decisions.
What should we be touching members with?
Let me share a couple of examples using one of my favorite customers New Jersey Society of CPA’s (NJSCPA) as examples of an organizations with great “touching” strategies. NJSCPA will focus on the Unique Value Proposition (UVP) they offer their members and stakeholders:
- Provides Tools for Member Success
- Enhances Managerial/Leadership Skills
- Provides Education /Certification
- Building Community
- Advocate of the Industry
- Helps the association by providing a resource
- Provides solutions in exhibit hall
- Participates in industry surveys and focus groups
- Building Community
- Has a pulse on the Industry at large
If you look at both examples you will see that their primary purpose is building community with touching communication tools such as their newsletters and monthly magazines. Note that every issue is based around the unique value proposition that compelled their members to join.
A good strategy is to identify five unique value propositions of your company as seen through the eyes of your clients and other stakeholders. Five UVP is a minimum here. Next put together a marketing campaign around those critical points. Your first touch should be an overview of all the benefits derived from our customers. Your next five touches are focused on each of your UVP’s separately for a total of six great touches. Then repeat that process a second time and you will have reinforced the decision to be a customer or at least a fan of your organization twelve times annually not to mention the fact that you’ve also created an attraction for others to buy from you.
When you “touch” someone 12 times you are accepting the fact that your relationship with them is one that will deepen and develop over time.
These days there are a variety of ways to touch our prospects. In addition to newsletters, lunch-and- learn, and webinars, we can touch members by using social media tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and video blogs.
You can also create interest in your association by adapting to your member’s entrepreneurial or lifestyle needs. What about the relationship of the new healthcare model to nurses salaries? Offer a series of articles, a video conference, a sit-down dinner and a one-on-one chat. Make your members feel that you are more than an association; you are a group of human beings who care.
Developing trust in any relationship is a product of four things: availability, curiosity, vulnerability and time. When we approach someone else wanting to have a relationship with them, we must have already created the intention in our mind that we are available to spend time talking with them and meeting with them about their interests and their lifestyle. We need to be honestly curious and we have to share ourselves.
So the real question is this – what are you doing to reinforce the decisions for attendees to want to do business with you while at the conference? As the economy rebounds, people remember those who made the extra efforts to help them by being a resource through the tough times. By doing so you are demonstrating your value add to your customer. Remember that to truly be seen as a value add to your members, you must help members do at least one of these three things:
- Save money by avoiding a future expense
- Make money by giving them information to grow personally or professionally
- Avoid a catastrophe that they didn’t see coming their way
Never forget, people like to do business with people they like, and who have helped them through tough times.
Finally, there is vulnerability. Be sure that you provide a forum for your customers to share their struggles and life experiences. There’s nothing like a genuine human being to attract other human beings to them.
I have a saying “Results = Ability – Distractions.” Distractions minimize our focus on getting the results we want. By focusing on increasing our ability to build relationships and touching our clients we will have better results and “Make it Rain” both happy and new customers in 2011!
Ed Robinson, “The Rainmaker” is a Growth expert who helps businesses and associations grow their leaders and their revenue.
Using the key concepts from his books, The Million Dollar Rainmaker and 4 Giant Steps to Leadership, Ed helps organizations create proactive growth and leadership strategies regardless of economic conditions
Having spoken in over 30 countries, Ed is sought after globally for his speaking, coaching and rainmaking techniques. Ed has been a NJSCPA speaker at numerous events and remains an advocate on our behalf. Ed can be reached at 210-342-4866, his email is firstname.lastname@example.org and his website is www.edspeaks.com.
Ed is the author of The Rainmaker’s Strategies for Business Growth™, 4 Giant Steps to Leadership™, From Fighting the Storm to Dancing in the Rain™ in addition to The Million Dollar Rainmaker.