Thoughts For A Successful Year!

One recurring theme we hear when interviewing decision makers on behalf of our clients is their desire for trusted resources – partners – who can help them be better than they could be alone.  Challenging times offer unique opportunities to step up to the plate and cement a bond by coming through for them in a time of need.  It presents an opportunity to get back in touch with key customers, and prospects on your target list that just didn’t get called as you had hoped.

This is also a great time to revisit whether or not you still feel that your value proposition is current and meaningful.  Does it clearly state the tangible results a customer gets from doing business with you?  Or said another, less tactful, way – does it answer the question of why they should do business with you?  What you wrote one, two or more years ago may not resonate today.  If not, it may just be because you have grown.  In that case, congratulations and now get out a pen and paper and start jotting ideas.  Short, clear, and crisp.  Something that could fit on a t-shirt.  Something you can embrace and have fun with.  Something that inspires and gives purpose and direction.
Make sure your target market is clearly defined.  Next to not having a clear value proposition, having your ladder leaning up against the wrong house is the biggest reason for failure.  Yes, it takes time that you don’t have, and isn’t as much fun as looking at your new promotional materials.  But if you don’t take the time, your marketing won’t matter anyway.
When you talk to your customers, remember – – it’s all about them.  Your products and services need to match up with their business objectives and expectations.  Not the other way around.
When I call prospects for the first time – either for our own marketing and sales consulting practice, or calling on behalf of our clients – I still script out important  parts of my call.  At least the key phrases and words I want to make sure I nail.  I think the biggest fear most people have in calling is sounding like an idiot.  Thinking through and writing down key points gives you confidence.  It’s hard to come off as smart as you actually are, if you are unsure of what you want to say.
Another “best practice” is to call yourself and leave a message.  Listen to how you sound.  It may not be pretty the first few times, but with practice you will sound like you want to – how you need to.  Make the changes needed to get your message clear and concise. Think of it this way, athletes would never think of playing a big game without practicing – – why should you?  It’s not wimpy; it’s respecting yourself and the person you are calling.  And, best of all, it will get noticeable results.
A couple of closing thoughts… we’ve all heard of a “60 second elevator talk.”  In reality you really only have about ten seconds to engage, or you have lost your audience.  At ten seconds, the person you are talking to is looking across the room for someone he or she can excuse themselves.  Make it short, sweet and compelling.  It takes a lot of work to refine all the things you want to say down to just 10 seconds.
Finally, if you need to leave a message, think 20 seconds. That’s all you get, with the first ten seconds being critical (see above).

Posted by John Harden  February 22nd, 2009

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