If your business has clients who are also businesses, you might want to pick up on the below point.
I’m not a champion like Virgin Group’s Richard Branson, but I’m pretty sure Mr. Branson would agree with the gold nugget I’ve learned through the years and will share with you below.
Many years ago my dad started a roofing business with just a pick-up truck, a straight-claw hammer, a 40-foot aluminum ladder, a leather nail pouch, and a box of nails.
Eventually as my brother and I grew old enough, we worked in that business.
I started at thirteen years-old cleaning residential customer’s lawns on tear-off jobs. I was the guy who picked up all the scraps and old roofing, tossed it in a wheel barrow, hoofed it out to the driveway or street, then picked it up again to toss in a truck. Crappy work, but I earned some bucks and it was a great learning experience.
Here’s the good part though, ten years later, at twenty-three years of age I was running a flat-roof crew and successfully bidding large commercial projects against contractors who’d been in business longer than I’d been alive.
Of course, hard work and persistence on my dad’s part was huge, because it allowed the stability for me to take interest in the business at an early age.
As I look back though, there was someone else who was very instrumental to our success.
A salesman from a roofing system manufacturer took interest in our family business. He shared personal experiences of his own previous roofing business, he shared tips and tricks he picked up from other contractors, he would talk us up to potential business clients in our region, and he knew a lot about our personal lives.
Cripes, I think I still have a couple Wilkinson knives he gave us for a wedding present over 30-years ago.
There is no way we would have had the success we did if not for the help from this individual. Yes of course, he increased his sales numbers by selling product, but it was good product to start with, and he knew that helping others with their business, would help him out in the end. He cared first, and reaped second.
More recently, one business I’m in involves distribution companies. For certain products there are two main distributors. One of them I’d used for years mostly because there was little other choice, we’ll call them Distributor A. The other is a much smaller company; we’ll call them Distributor B.
I’ve been using smaller Distributor B more and more, and plan to use them almost exclusively for the foreseeable future.
So how can Distributor B come in and grab my business from Distributor A who I’ve used for almost two decades?
When I ask Distributor A if they can do something, it’s either, “No, we can’t do that,” or “I’ll look into it,” and I never hear from them again.
Distributor B says, “I’ll look into it,” and the get it done.
I haven’t seen a Distributor A sales person with product samples at my place for probably 8-years other than once when they wanted to push a cellular sales device they were getting into.
Distributor B stops by nearly every month to bring samples of products, tell me about new things coming on the market, and shoot a little BS as well.
With Distributor A, my inside salesperson left back in December of 2014, and I still don’t know who replaced her despite my asking about it three –times.
With Distributor B I know the name of the billing person, my inside sales rep, and of course my field rep who comes by. If I want a product they don’t carry, they’ll do their best to get it for me.
Basically, Distributor A doesn’t give a rip about me, the sales guy is only interested in dealing with companies who have big sales numbers, and personally his agenda when I do talk to him is quite transparent. I don’t really care for him.
He very much gives off the impression I mean nothing to him because I’m not a big business client of his. How hard is it these days to send a simple personalized e-mail to check in virtually? Besides, I live 10-minutes off a main highway corridor running through our state, not out in Timbuktu.
Distributor B’s sales guy is somewhat surface talk, but he’s a good guy and cares about helping me be more profitable. He’s gone to bat for me with product pricing right from the owner himself, and has really worked hard to gain my business, as small as it might be compared to the big boys.
So what can we walk away with here?
If you serve other businesses, or even if an individual customer, make it your business to help them grow, increase profitability, or achieve their goals.
I can pretty much guarantee you’ll gain their loyalty and increase your own business as a result.
This is exactly what is meant by helping others helps yourself. The catch is, you genuinely have to feel helping out a customer is your real interest and your gain is a bi-product. If you try to buffalo your way through the opposite, they’ll see right through it in your words, tone, actions, and energy. Do not under estimate your caring, or lack thereof, as well body language, verbal tones, and follow-through; which speak much louder than words themselves.
Until next time…
Live like you’ll never get hurt, dream like nobody is watching, and above all… try-try-try until you succeed!