I heard Gary V or Gary Venyerchuk doing a Q&A the other day and he was answering a question about the influx of content creators and how one can stand out in a crowded space. He said, “In a crowded mature market, you need to be better than the other guy”.
Ok, I might buy that you need to be good but I would also add you need to be memorable. You need to create moments with your clients.
There is a new book coming out that was the inspiration behind this episode of the podcast. It by an author team, known as the Heath Brothers. Chip and Dan Heath have written some great business books among them:
- Switch – How to change things when change is hard.
- Made to Stick – Why some ideas survive and others die.
- Decisive – How to make better choices in life and work
Their upcoming book The Power Of Moments which if preorder TODAY by going to the IT Provider Network website will come with 5 great bonuses from the Heath Brothers. This offer expires on October 3rd so if you want it follow the simple instructions on how to preorder the book you can get the 5 great bonuses from the authors. Go to the itprovidernetwork.com/moments for the instructions.
I heard Dan Heath talking about The Power of Moments on the Tony Robbins podcast. In their book, they talk about the difference between moments and true experiences. Dan gave the example of Disneyland and how if we were to evaluate the experience as the sum of all the time we spent at Disneyland we would probably prefer to stay home on the couch. No sore legs, long lines, hot and humid days but we don’t evaluate experiences based on the average of the whole experience we evaluate and remember them based on moments that occurred in that experience.
When I was listening to him recount this, I was thinking about attending a football game. I am outside of Philadelphia Pennsylvania and our NFL team the Eagle have some crazy crazy fans. The spend an entire day in the freezing cold to watch a game that if you were to average it down would be much better experienced in front of the TV than in a freezing cold stadium. But again that’s not how we remember things, we look at the peaks and remember them.
Dan Heath talks about positive moments being created in four different ways:
- Elevation – Experience that rise above normal day-to-day stuff. weddings, speeches, etc.
- Insight – Love at first sight, Fed Up with a job or relationship. These happen in an instant
- Pride – Moments when you are truly proud or have stood up for something you believe
- Connection – a Team working through a tough problem – relationships are formed for life.
It’s a really interesting subject and what I took from this is that we need to create moments with our business.
He gives a couple of examples of how businesses who maybe weren’t the best in their industry or they were in very crowded industries have created moments with their customers and employees that make them rise to the top of the field.
The first one, I bet you have all heard, here’s a sound byte of one of the moments the company has made.
That’s a Southwest Airlines flight attendant performing a federally mandated safety briefing in a very memorable way, in a way that creates a lasting impression with the passengers. They actually studying this and this one thing alone could be tied back to a 140 Million Dollars in additional revenue – IT COST THEM NOTHING.
The next great example is the Magic Castle hotel in California. I have actually heard of this hotel on two occasions now. It is a little old junkie hotel in Los Angelos, I actually stayed at one that looked like this hotel two days ago for a wedding. Non-descript little lobby, clean rooms but nothing fancy. Little old pool and those small little bars of soap in the bathroom. If you have ever been to the Jersey Shore the shore is littered with these little hotel/motels.
The thing that sets the Magic Castle apart is that they have gone out of their way to create moments for their guests. The coolest one is the popsicle hotline.
Out by the pool is a red “landline”. It’s a wall phone that anyone can pick up and order a popsicle. Three different flavors served on a silver plate by a “butler” wearing white gloves.
They also have free candy and snacks, they’ll do your laundry and yes they have a couple of magic shows every week. What has this done for the Magic Castle? It was the #1 Hotel in Los Angelos for quite a long time and it has over 3100 reviews. At the time of this podcast, it is sitting at #2 but it looks like everything above it is a sponsored link.
So I am not sure I totally agree with Gary V. I think you need to be great at what you do but I also think you need to be memorable.
So how can we be memorable in our businesses? I have a saying that I drill into my team, “We are only a good as our last “That A Boy!” One “Oh Shit” and we might be out the door.
Because we are a recurring bill, and most of us are doing at least some portion of our business as a flat fee we tend to do what needs to be done and not always what we sold the client. If you have ever had any Gary Pica, TruMethods type training you are selling the “4 Blocks”. “Network Administration, Helpdesk, Technical Consulting and Centralized Services”. When you walk into a prospect they have heard the same pitch from the last guy.
Creating Moments with your Prospects
So what can you do to be memorable? When you are prospecting do a little research, know who you are going to meet or at least know the company. Check them out on LinkedIn, Google the person you are going to meet. See if you can creep on their facebook and look for common interests. Go that extra step and be better than the last guy. It goes a long way to help prove your company is better than the last guy.
Be sharp, Be on time. Follow up after the call.
Add them to a drip campaign. So many times we meet with a prospect and it is a great fit, it just isn’t the right time. This might be because of a contract or because we haven’t done a good enough job in uncovering latent pain. Whatever the reason if you are not following up you probably won’t be the one they think of when the time is right. Get them on a drip.
Creating Moments with your Clients
Once you have a customer it is even easier to create some moments. What do you do when you land a new managed services client? How do you commemorate the sale? Here are a couple things that won’t cost you a dime but will go a long way to make the buyer feel they have made the right decision.
Notes and Such
- Ring the Bell – Part of our onboarding track is the “Ring the Bell” Email. The salesperson that closed the deal sends out an email to the entire company to let them know about the win. How does this build a moment with your clients – well it doesn’t but it builds one with your staff and that’s equally important.
- Send a card to your new client. We have blank greeting cards we had made at VistaPrint and I will usually pen a short note thanking the new client for trusting us with their IT. I add my cell phone number then I pass it around to the service delivery team to welcome the customer and express how they look forward to serving them. Depending on the size of the client we might send some cookies too. My favorite cookies come from Crazy Susan’s Cookie Company, Susan is a friend of mine and her cookies are awesome. She ships anywhere in the US and the cookies are to die for!
- Keep track of your contract anniversaries and send out another thank you card after the contract auto-renews. Remind the client in a positive way that you appreciate their business. Have the team write notes on this card too.
- Testimonials and Referrals At a minimum send a note but in some cases, you might want to do more.
- Turn your service shortfalls into opportunities building lasting relationships. We are in the service business. We are going to screw up once in a while. When this happens, take time to reframe the situation and make this way to build a better relationship with your client.
- First – make sure you own the problem. Forget the word “but”. Never let anyone on your team utter statements like “We’re sorry but” or “We were watching your backups but…” Forget it, just own the problem, be truly apologetic and work to resolve it quickly.
- Second – Explain what you are trying to achieve. Share with your client all the ways you tried to avoid this from happening and what you are doing to improve the service going forward. Explain your action plan and then make sure you do it.
- Third – Follow-up. Don’t just leave it up to your service team to follow up with the customer. Do it yourself.
Gifts and Events
- Send them a book – Great company leaders want to know that the partners they are working with are striving to become great leaders too. Sending a book with a hand written note is agreat way to do this. Some of my favorites are:
- “Fans Not Customers: How to Create Growth Companies in a No Growth World” by Vernon Hill.Vernon Hill is a South Jersey original (South Jersey is my primary market) but he is also a business legend. He is one of only a handful of chief executives ever to be a member of the Forbes 20/20 club: to have stayed in the same job for over two decades paying more than 20% returns every year. He grew his regional bank to the 18th largest bank in the US and sold it for 8.5 billion to TD Bank. Everyone wants to grow and most of my customer know the Commerce Bank/Vernon Hill success.
- “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. This book talks about the power of one to one networking and is a great icebreaker to ask your client to go to lunch. When you do go to lunch with your client, leave your sales hat home. Try to listen as much as possible and look for ways you can be more memorable to your client and how you can help them build, grow or scale their business.
- Host an Event. Remember the leaders at your clients are tuned into technology like we are. They are hearing things all the time that confuse them. Host small events after work with 6-10 executives and explain things that they are confused about. A really hot topic right now is crypto-currency. I am a techie and I don’t really understand it. People are really interested in Bitcoin and the other crypto-currencies but they are afraid to look stupid in front of others. Make an environment where they can have a couple of cold ones, meet some other local business leaders and learn something over a cheese platter. If that’s not your style then make it a pizza party. Speaking of Pizza Parties
- Send some pizza’s to your clients to celebrate their special day(s). Get engrained with your clients. Most of them will be small businesses like you. Find out when the company was started and send some pizza’s to the office on the anniversary of their business. Do you think their copier salesman or banker is doing this? No way. Be different, create moments. There is even a site called Large Pizza Orders that will help you figure out how much to order and what kind is most economical. If you are ordering from a pizza place near your office see if you can put a paper on the outside of each pizza box celebrating the companies milestone.
You might also want to check out Episode 7 of the IT Provider Network for 5 ways to keep your customers happy and reduce churn.
So Back to Gary V
I have to admit, having Gary V in the title of this episode was a little clickbaity but I really did think about his quote that you need to be better in a crowded mature market. I am 100% sure we are in a crowded mature but I am also 100% sure that being better is not enough. We also need to be memorable. We need to build moments with our clients. We need to build lasting relationships. I have some really big customers, I mean ones that are in your bathroom cabinet when you open it or ones that you start up every morning in your driveway. I’ve had them for over 20 years and I guarantee it wasn’t because I was the best IT provider in the market. It was because I think about how I can make moments with them.
Vernon Hill the banker that wrote the book about building Fans said everything we do in our companies is either building up our brand or tearing it down. I think the same is true of our managed services businesses. Every single thing we do either fosters a better or worse relationship with our clients and tips the scale one way or another on the lifetime value of the customer.
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