This post from Sean D'Souza, How to Create The Accidental Evangelist, is a good one to read and internalize. Posted on his blog, Psychotactics.com, Sean does a good job reminding us that it takes listening to our clients (referral sources) and acting upon what we learn to create "accidental evangelists."
After Sean gives examples from Amex and a hotel, he writes:
Yeah, yeah, I know. You don’t run a hotel. And you don’t own a credit card company. And the options for you to create evangelists, accidental or not, are few and far in between.
Ok, so tell me another one…
Because you’ve not been listening. As in paying attention to your customers — because customers are sure telling you really important stuff all the time.
“Hi Jody,” they say, “Can we re-schedule our meeting, as I can’t make it today. My son is ill and needs to be taken to the doctor.” Or “Hi, Mark,” they say, “It’s my birthday next week, and my wife is taking me out to lunch, so….
... companies don’t listen. People do. Companies send silly greeting cards at Christmas time. People listen and act on specific situations. And when they (as in you and me, act) the customer is startled, bemused, surprised, excited and suddenly there’s a smile on the customer’s face.
Take a moment to read it and then follow his advice.
"... to help others get what they want might be the best way to summarize relationship management at its finest."
Especially don't miss the suggested action step. Read the post here.
Linda Julian, who offers strategic practice development counsel to lawyers and other professionals throughout Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia, wrote a smart and very applicable article entitled "Zombie Marketing - How Dead Marketing Ideas Still Walk Among Us" for LawMarketing.com.
This is an article that every professional service firm marketer (and rainmaker) should read. Chances are, you'll recognize your firm and your partners somewhere among her points (and you might even recognize yourself!).
Linda details a few "dead ideas and mindless marketing rituals [that] circulate freely among legal and other professional service firms." If you are a marketer, chances are you have had a partner or two come into your office or cube and share their latest and greatest business development idea - many of which Linda deems to be zombie marketing.
Her points are dead on. One of the things that struck me was her use of the term"random acts of lunch," when talking about the time-honored business development ritual of taking a prospect to lunch. Linda identifies this zombie marketing technique as:
“We really need to take [that client or prospective client] to lunch.” Lunch and other informal, semi-social settings can be great opportunities to build relationships and chew the business fat. Many qualify as zombie marketing because they’re “random acts of lunch” which amount to time squandered by the ill-prepared with the wrong people.
Rules of engagement around lunch vary enormously between sectors, corporations, and according to personnel level within organizations. Frequently, the busy and influential with plenty of spending power either don’t have time for lunch, or don’t want to be courted by prospective professional service suppliers for the price of a nice plate of food. They’d rather do their business, maybe including a quick coffee, and then spend their time with professionals and other folk they’ve come to respect and like as they talk over the deals and matters they’ve worked on and even celebrate successes together. (emphasis mine)
Her point is a good one and one that I've been pondering. Fifteen years ago, even ten years ago, it was pretty easy in my profession to gain an appointment with a prospect or take them to lunch. Over the years, it's gotten much more difficult - for a variety of reasons.
One reason is we have much more competition in our industry today than we had fifteen years ago so there are more of us knocking on their door.
A second, and much more important, reason is people today can't or won't take the time to meet with you unless there is immediate value to them. A recent post by Ian Brodie ("What's Your Step #2?") spoke to this clearly:
In a post by Voss Graham of Developing Your B2B Sales Skills, he lists the eight major "BS excuses" used by buyers in the B2B sales process. He then provides a few hints to overcome them. Not all of them apply to business appraisers, CPAs, attorneys, etc., but several do. Take a look. Those selling professional services can learn something here.
The eight excuses offered by buyers are:
The solution is CardMunch.com. LinkedIn recently acquired CardMunch. According to Fill the Funnel:
So what did they acquire? Simply put, CardMunch scans a business card, sends it off to be converted into a digital format and then comes back to you with 100% accuracy, placed in your contacts database. With the release of version 2.0, you can also now send off an invite to connect on LinkedIn from within the app. No muss, no fuss.
Take a look at this video to see how it works and note the integration with LinkedIn.
Now, check out how easy it is to e-mail your contacts.
The problem right now is that it only works with the iPhone. I assume an Android and Blackberry version will be coming soon. I have downloaded and tested and it works like a charm.
Read more: LinkedIn Solves the Business Card Challenge http://www.fillthefunnel.com/2011/02/10/linkedin-solves-business-card-challenge/#ixzz1Db0Q9niH
C.J. Hayden has a nice post entitled "10 Ways to Break Down Marketing Roadblocks" posted at RainToday.com (I love RainToday). I might have titled the post "I Hate to Market But Need to Eat, So How Do I Get Motivated?"
Have you ever found yourself knowing exactly what you need to do to market your business—and then you don't do it? ... Many independent professionals find that the hardest part of marketing isn't figuring out what to do. What's hard is actually doing it.
Marketing yourself can be a confronting process. Making phone calls to strangers, writing marketing letters, and talking about yourself and your accomplishments can bring up fear of rejection, harsh commentary from your inner critic, feelings of incompetence, and the discomfort of performing unfamiliar activities. If you let them, these inner saboteurs can stop you dead in your tracks.
The good news is that you don't have to completely eliminate these internal roadblocks in order to move forward in marketing. It is possible to feel afraid or uncomfortable and still take useful action.
She then goes on to provide a list of "10 ways to quickly break through internal barriers and get your marketing unstuck."
If you hate marketing, find it uncomfortable, intimidating, or even unbecoming, but find that the year is beginning a bit too slowly for you, check out this post. While not every item on the 10 point list is for everyone, there is at least one idea for you to get you started. Good luck.
Why, oh why, do you make it hard for people to find a phone number or an e-mail address?
I am on your firm's website (congratulations) and I am viewing your CV and now I want to call or e-mail you. Where is your phone number? Your e-mail address? Oh wait, it's under "Contact Us." No, it's not. Hmmm. Okay, it's bound to be under "About Us." Nope, not there either. Errrrrrrr!!
If I am still searching, I will try "Firm Management" or "Professionals" or whatever other label you use. That is "if"...