In the professional services marketplace, little is as valuable as the word of mouth referral. That wonderful moment when the phone rings and the person on the other end says something like “so and so mentioned I should call you”. There really isn’t anything nicer.
And where does this come from? It is most certainly not just dumb luck. It comes from doing a lot of things right. From doing great work, from having a service that people want to talk about. It comes from being different, and it comes from looking after your clients, before, during and after service delivery.
In the days of our grandparents, businesses lived or died by word of mouth. Today with the advent of the internet and fancy marketing systems and practices, it is very easy to get lost in the noise.
The reality is that nothing has really changed. Sure we have Twitter and Facebook etc to pass on our message, but these just amplify the sound. As Gary Vaynerchuk so eloquently puts it “social media is word of mouth on steroids”. Regardless, people still listen to people that they trust, and their buying behaviour is altered accordingly.
If someone you trust tells you that a restaurant is good, you might try it. If they tell you its bad, you definitely won’t. Professional services is exactly the same. Its all about who you trust, and who they trust.
Real business is done between two people. Its happens when those two people move from know to like, and then onto trust. Its done at a point where each wants to do business with the other.
This is human nature. If given a choice, we will choose to work with people we like. Just as we choose to socialise with people we like, we choose to do business the same way.
But how do we get there? How do we decide we like each other? The answer is simple: we talk. We chat, we communicate, we listen, we respond.
We like people who are like us, or like or dislike the same things that we do. This is why people who join sports and social clubs often form such great friendships. They start with the thing that they have in common, whatever that might be, and then they move on.
To get to like, small talk is vital. Small talk gets us to the things we have in common, it starts a conversation that can move towards like.
We all know that before we can provide a solution, we need to understand the problem, but in a marketing/networking context this simple rule seems easily forgotten.
If you are meeting people and just selling at them, invariably you will lose out. I see this so often at networking events. People standing around and telling everyone they meet what they do, and what they can do for you.
If you are doing this, the chances are that people will walk away.
The sad reality is that they will not work with you even if they have a need for your service. And, they will not tell people about you. They can’t do, because they probably didn’t listen to you in the first place.
Next time you are faced with opportunity to meet a new business contact remember to connect with them. Get from know to like, and start build towards trust. If they like you, the chances are that at some future point, they will buy from you.
For more on developing yourself or your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, my website www.jamesnathan.com or call me on 07736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.
I look forward to speaking soon.