Today, there are many ways to promote your business. If you want to be competitive, to develop with the market and to maintain the pulse and not be blindsided by your competition, you need to consider site and client visits.
There is no question that if you have a good business you will find work without applying any of these pointers though at some point you will lose touch of the industry pulse, your business will lose customers, become stagnant and fail. With all this talk of innovation in our industry this is especially true today.
A few reasons why you would spend time in front of your customers and prospects:
- Interview opportunity. This is a big one. Can you make a list of the client key decision-making factors? Keep asking as these change over time. How is your work or the work of the competition? Maybe you discover you have a new competitor? Maybe there is a drastic change in market share you witness through your visits?! What are some key pointers from the customer to improve the business? Key frustrations?
- Discuss their process with your equipment and service. Often asking the question, “how are we doing” brings no real information. Until you know exactly how your product is being used or service incorporated, you cannot come up with ideas for improvement and sometimes the customer has no idea where to improve your business….because nobody understands your business as well as you do.
- Determine customer challenges. To discover if the customer has challenges with their current project and budget or if that will be changing in the future?
- Win a bid. This is the chance to ask exactly why you lost the bid. Asking by email or phone will not bring a lot of information? It is best we get in front of the customer as this is the only way we can dig out a complete and useful answer. It is human nature and the exception if someone will give you real idea by email…unless you have really disappointed. People are people and are more invested when someone is in front of them.
- Marketing and increase customer understanding of your business. You need to communicate your strengths. Guaranteed you can tell people, tell them again and again and they forget all about it. Their job isnt to think about you but it is yours to remind them. Another thing is you are remaining competitive and innovating your business and this needs to be communicated.
- Build personal relationships. People want to deal with people they trust and can relate to. Additionally if they have confidence to deliver, you have a better chance. This does not come from email, your website nor from one-off social settings. This requires a relationship. Being in a foreign country without my family, my clients are my family.
- Learn of customer business changes and where you fit in. Maybe there is a change in process with the client and you do not know or the key people who know your product or services leave the company….now maybe your product is left to waste or the new person has a relationship with the compeition.
- Show you care. Everyone is the same in that they want to be cared for, considered important and liked.
- Obtain and give references. Do you need a reference? Ask this only after you are sure of all of these answers and, if possible, in front of the customer. Find out what else is going on in your customer´s world. Maybe they mention a possible business lead or maybe you can reciprocate a contact to them.
- Avoid miscommunication. A bid was sent to 12 service contractors but you didn´t receive a bid because your staff did not communicate or inbox was full. What a shame. You are taken off the bid list and never find out because you never went to visit the client.
Of course all of this is easier if you are already maintaining a relationship and, unless you are some super guru on human behavior and influence, some of it will take investment over time to increase its effectiveness. If you do not consider yourself great with people and a bit shy, this can be disarming and most people respond well if you just be yourself and pop by their office to let them know you were thinking of them. Do not miss out on this.