Our series on building a personal brand features some big brands that have created big value for clients. Starbuck’s. Harley Davidson. Whole Foods.
Another example that struck me this week—and has a surprisingly tight relationship with our business—has been the automotive industry, specifically at the dealer level. It wasn’t that long ago when most of us ranked car salespeople right near the top of the most disliked professions of all.
If you haven’t bought a car lately then you’re likely going to be surprised when you do.
By latest count, I’ve referred three friends to Josh Elder, my Nissan sales rep. That’s just in the last six months. I even gave the guy props on Facebook. From the first meeting to more than a year later, he has been attentive, involved when necessary and, most important, interested. I’m a big-time advocate for Josh.
Isn’t that what we’re all after… to have clients be our advocate?
Josh has embraced a new age of selling with old fashioned, personal techniques. He calls, he writes, he checks in. All simple, but important things that are overshadowed today by technology trying to disguise itself as service.
It’s a growing pattern that makes me uncomfortable. Sales people hiding behind technology and then wondering why their business isn’t growing.
The Internet has turned the sales process on its head (not breaking news I know). What used to be controlled by the sales person is now, in most businesses, controlled by the client. For Josh, he’s behind the eight ball when a prospect walks in the door. Eight out of 10 times the prospect knows just about everything about the models that interest them and, most important, want no part of the historically Cro-Magnon sales tactics of the car business.
Sound familiar? While insurance may not be quite as far along as automotive in the degree of client control, the sales tactics of our industry have an eerily similar feel. There’s nothing more discouraging than having a client show you the pile of mail they’ve received from insurance firms, and look at you like you’re the problem. What Josh (and many in his industry are doing) is fighting back with a high-touch approach to one of the biggest purchases in a consumer’s lifetime.
There’s a lot for us to learn about this. The cost of insurance is a big expense for many families. An article this week from Startup Collective reinforced the importance of the personal touch and provided a few solid tips on how we can separate ourselves from this increasingly techno-centered world:
- Make friends with industry influencers. Start where you live by reaching out to those with influence, but don’t be afraid to reach out to those you read on the Internet. Generally they will be ecstatic you took the time.
- Send snail mail. Even better, put a stamp on it. Tweets are interesting, but discarded in seconds. Thoughtful notes stick around.
- Send an email. Next best thing behind snail mail. The point: interact at all levels with prospects and clients.
- Feature them on your blog. Josh just got big exposure today (see his contact information below if you’d like a good deal from a good guy). If you don’t have a blog then give some serious thought to starting today (call me, I can help).
- Treat them to a coffee. Take care of the important folks close to you, clients or otherwise. Watch blogs and tweets to see when important folks in your business are coming to town. The worst they can say to an invitation is no and you’ll be shocked how often they say yes.
Make finding advocates for your brand a priority. Word-of-mouth marketing can exponentially increase your company’s profile. And, when you get a chance, return the favor.
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- 4 biggest changes coming for IRAs. Changes are afoot and it is important clients are aware to ensure they are maximizing their contributions. Stay in touch with the change so you can help clients.
- Now there’s the “Internet of Things” (IoT). We love technology until it bites us in the rear end or worse. Connectivity is finding its way into scores of new devices, all with good intentions but all with some risk to the security of your information.
- 7 steps for women to avoid financial mistakes. No big news, a woman’s financial needs are different than a man, and there is broad recognition the financial services industry is not doing a good job of meeting them.