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[June 11, 2003]

Customer Catcher™

By Martin Wales

Don’t Be SHY When It Comes To Your Sales

There are profits within your grasp that cost little to collect, if anything at all. You can cash in on more sales today when you recognize the numerous missed opportunities for you and your company that are lost to shyness. Every day, there are occasions that mean profit or merely the passing of another moment in time.

The most precious and under-utilized asset is most frequently existing clients. Why are we so shy to ask them for more? They are treated as “already sold” while we go off looking for new ones. In fact, it’s not rare to hear negative references to the very livelihood of a business and what a “pain” customers can be. Silly notion, but the sad truth.

Upselling and Cross-Selling
The moment a prospect turns into a customer, you’ve won a level of trust. If you respect that trust and deliver consistence and quality, then you have the opportunity to CONTINUALLY offer them new products or different levels of service and support. Opportunity is lost when additional sales are not made to the group that is easiest and cheapest to resell. Why be shy with people you already know?

Your customers are your best salespeople. But, you have to activate and motivate them to become your lead generation assistants. Again, this is not only cost-effective but easy. There are numerous times when you can invite clients to refer your company from client appreciation events to technical support and customer service calls.

Excellent Customer Service
If you’re not talking with your customers regularly, you’re out of touch. So many companies only call when they have the next upgrade or product to sell. The customers only feel that you want them for their money -- and they’re right.

The telephone is your best prescription for this symptom of shyness, followed closely by e-mail, which is less personal. Frequent contact breeds familiarity, trust and confidence with your customer base. It also creates the most valuable business asset in the world -- relationships!

Networking is a natural environment for introducing yourself and your enterprise to new contacts. Yet many people attend various events and remain shy and less interactive than they should.

Trade Shows & Conferences
These events are powerful and opportune times to collect fresh contacts. The shortfall here is that many only have their eyes open for new “customers.” During breaks at conferences or slow traffic times at trade shows, you must proactively introduce yourself to industry colleagues who serve the same clients you do. Find complementary products that identify sales prospects or cause them to seek you out. If you’re selling headsets to call centers, it doesn’t hurt to get to know the ergonomic office furniture people, for example.

I just attended an Internet marketing conference in Cleveland and observed a lost opportunity as I was leaving the hotel. In the elevator, there were two gentlemen on the way down to a financial services conference. They had on the same badges with their printed names. Both had body language and facial expressions that implied they wanted to introduce themselves, but they did not. It was so obvious that I was tempted to speak up and act as an intermediary.

It doesn’t hurt to have your 30-second elevator speech ready to go any time. You should be able to introduce yourself and explain your unique value proposition, while arousing curiosity, in this very short period. You don’t have to sell them in 30 seconds -- just introduce yourself and get invited to talk more. Be prepared to offer it on airplanes, at meetings, speaking engagements, on the phone or at social events.

'Off-duty' Opportunities
Don’t have a punch-clock mentality. If you’re not at work, your antennae should always be up for opportunity. If you’re at a wedding, it is not rude to exchange business cards for later contact. I am speaking about doing this during the reception and not while the couple are exchanging vows, of course. As long as you’re understated and don’t pull out a sales presentation flip chart, social events are excellent venues where you get a chance to connect.

Public Relations
Don’t be shy about your successes or challenges in our industry. Use public relations as the public forum that it is to step up and announce your triumphs or to address the issues faced by your industry or by your customers.

Press Releases
Step into the spotlight as often as you can. Press releases are invitations to various media to pay attention to you. Whether it’s print, radio or TV, they’re looking for interesting stories and angles to educate and entertain their audience. If you’re shy here, you won’t get any attention. You must offer them something that IS newsworthy, however. For example, unless it’s a very specific industry publication, it is not news that you’re releasing Version 3.2.05 of your printer driver or you meet the latest 802.11 standards.

Industry Awards
If you are targeting specific verticals or there are awards for your own industry, you should apply to all that are appropriate. Be proud of your achievements and your contribution to society. By sharing and showing your pride, albeit humbly, you attract customers who are seeking leadership and confidence to solve their problems. Awards and accolades in the media are superb third-party references to your professionalism and quality. What better way to create credibility and customer confidence?

Overcoming a moment of shyness means there won’t be money missed. Otherwise, you’re not getting maximum leverage from all opportunities before you. If you recognized comments in this column similar to your experience, write out some immediate action items and priorities to be addressed in your business. Bring it up at your next sales or marketing meetings. “Faint heart never won fair maiden,” just like shy people and strategies don’t win customers. Take every chance you can to introduce yourself and your company to everyone you can. Be loud and proud.

At www.CustomerCatcher.com, Martin Wales is a business development and lead generation specialist. For a FREE preview of his new audio program, How to Get The Mindset of A Customer Catcher for Maximum Leverage & Profit, send an e-mail to [email protected].

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