Are You The Trusted Resource?

26 06 2010

So I had an appointment with my hair stylist this morning.  She’s a pretty successful small business owner who does a lot of the right things when it comes to stretching her advertising budget. She’s never done radio oddly enough and relies much on yellow pages, bridal shows and grass roots type marketing.  She has done a wonderful job carving a niche in her market by providing hair and make-up services to brides-to-be.  Hands down, she’s the best and will travel to wherever she needs to go to make it easier on her bridal clients.  She gets most of her new business from client referrals. 

Here’s the crazy part…As I was sitting in her chair having some highlights applied and waiting for them to process, she proceeds to tell me about a full court sales press she had put on her just days before by a local TV station sales person.  Over the phone mind you.  This guy explained to her how she could be the exclusive community sponsor of the day on their website homepage for the county her business resided in, it would cost $289/month, she’d get a local merchant page, a business video and a few other little perks.  Then he proceeded to tell her that she had to decide that day in order to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity!  She wanted to know what I thought.  All I could do was ask her questions about the deliverables she was receiving and unfortunately, she had no answers.  She then handed me a phone number on a post it note along with her business phone and asked if I would call this guy, say I was the shop manager Val and ask him the questions I just asked her.  She told me she gave this guy her credit card number to hold her “potential” platinum sponsorship and the drop dead date for her decision was today.  Oh, and she wanted me to review the contract this guy emailed over before I made the call.  Of course I was happy to oblige.  There were 2 phone numbers on this post it note.  A toll free number which ended up being his office number which of course he wasn’t in the office on a Saturday, and the other number was the one he said was his personal cell number.  Well, it wasn’t his cell number…it was actually a number that could only perform originating calls.  There was absolutely no way to reach this guy except for leaving a message on his office line.    

I ended up writing the questions down for her on a sheet of paper.  There were 10 in all.  I went to this TV station’s website perused the product he was trying to sell her, found him in an account manager listing and basically uncovered that he was a part of a sales telemarketing team that this particular broadcast company uses.  After glancing at her contract, it locked her in to a 12 month term with heavy penalties if she cancelled early, PLUS, nowhere in this contract did it ever cite the deliverables she would receive in exchange for her annual commitment.

Net, net…This is where advertising is going and it scares the Be-Jesus out of me.  This company never made that “in person” contact that I feel is still necessary in this business.  There is something to be said about being comfortable with whom you are buying a product/solution from.  The sad thing is, he put the full court press on her and made her feel she would miss out on something big.  I told her flat out that this was just a tactic and she should tell him that if her business was of value to him then he would let her lock into a shorter term and give her time to think about it.  I know $289 isn’t a lot of money per month, but it is a lot if you are a small business owner with a limited budget.  Especially, if we are half way through the year and your dollars are already allocated. 

These types of “sales”, give the media industry and sales people a bad name.  Companies like this prey on the small business owner who really doesn’t know what the best thing is to do when marketing their brand.   The lesson to be learned here if you are in sales is to be that resource for your client.  If the shoes were on your feet and it was you trying to do the hard close, don’t let it be your competitor that he/she picks up the phone to call to get input from.  Earn the trust and the opportunity to be the resource of choice when they need advice on their advertising and/or marketing plans.  Everybody is somebody’s somebody.  My stylist may never be a client of mine, but the circle of influence she has within the community may yield my company a client.  My entire hour and a half spent in her business this morning allowed me to cross paths with a doctor who was also a client of hers, and she and I spent a great deal of time discussing how to use the internet to help grow her practice.  I’m building that trust, I’m building that credibility and I’m building my personal brand, one piece of advice at a time.  And, it didn’t cost either a dime.  You can’t put a price tag on what I got of it.  Being the “trusted” source over time will pay off. 

If I had music to close this post by, it would be Johnny Cash – One Piece at a Time!




2 responses

26 06 2010
Foot Problems 101

Are You The Trusted Resource?…

I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

1 07 2010

Thank you.

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