Three people you should take to lunch.
By Michael Dalton Johnson
Invite your banker to lunch. It’s best to do this when you don’t need financial services and just want to introduce yourself. Have a friendly conversation. Tell her about your company and your long-term goals. Bankers are great sources of referrals and introductions. They meet a lot of businesspeople. Once they know you, they may send someone in need of your product or service. If the time comes when you do need a loan or a bank reference, you have the inside track.
Take the head of your largest supplier to lunch. Talk shop and learn what’s new. Talk about your business goals and subtly let him know your value as a customer. The main reason for this lunch is that if you ever have a problem with price, delivery, or any of the many other things that can go wrong with a supplier, you’ll get a much quicker and satisfactory resolution if you are a friends with the CEO.
Take your competitor to lunch. This isn’t as crazy as it may seem. You’ll be surprised by how much you will learn when talking over lunch. The reasons for your getting together are to demystify the competition, get a feel for its management, and create a collegial relationship.
Of the dozen or so competitors I’ve invited to lunch over the years, only a few have been hostile and refused the invitation. I think many accepted my invitation out of curiosity, and a few seemed genuinely flattered. If the competitor is not local, arrange for a lunch or dinner when you are both at a trade show, exhibition, or conference.
Competition doesn’t always have to be unpleasant or adversarial. I’ve had competitors, who, because they knew and liked me, referred customers to me when they were backlogged or weren’t set up to handle the client’s needs.
Excerpted from Rules of the Hunt. Sold out in hard copies, available in electronic form only. Learn more here
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Convert Leads Faster
By Mark Hunter
You probably don’t know your customer as well as you think you do. As a result, your business is at risk. Below are 10 questions you need to answer to know your customers, so you can better reach each of them.
1. What are my customer’s business objectives for this year?
2. What is my customer’s personal objective for this year?
3. Who are the other people I need to get to know?
4. What are the competitive threats my customer is dealing with?
5. What are the big issues or risks my customer is dealing with?
6. What would happen if my customer lost their biggest customer?
7. Where is my customer’s growth going to come from?
8. How is my customer’s business perceived in their area and their industry?
9. How important is what I sell to their overall business?
10. How important am I to my customer?
Take a moment to answer each of these questions for every one of your major customers. Similarly, these questions work well when analyzing a prospect to determine how you can best help them, too. As you work through them, I’m sure you’ll find gaps. That means you have work to do. The sooner you can answer each question, the sooner you will become even more valuable to your customer.
Being seen only as a vendor is a bad place to be; however, if you can’t answer any of these questions, you are nothing but a vendor.
It’s going to require a lot of digging to find the answers to all ten of these questions, and the customer must be included in the process. By asking these questions, you are showing the customer that you’re not a vendor but somebody that really wants to work with them. Certainly, your competitors are not asking these questions.
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