Presents (Issue 416)

My wife's grandmother, Gramma Donahue, many times instructed her children and grandchildren, "Never go visiting with one arm as long as the other."

Meaning, when you go to visit, you carry presents to offer – food or flowers were favorites – as a sign of respect and appreciation, to forge ties, and support the relationship. [For the concrete thinkers in the group, this would mean that one arm were shorter than the other because you’d be carrying the gifts in one arm.]

How would that sound, upon arrival?  “Why, it so good to see you. Oh, is that for ME?  Why, thank you, it looks wonderful and smells so good.  Please, come in and take your coats off.”

Good principle when making sales calls, as well.  From time to time, a bag of terrific cookies can do the trick.  Even better are information, ideas, perspective, or a point of view that we think our clients or prospects can use or should respond to.

  • Information – facts that we think our clients may not have
  • ideas –  “something to think about” to start a conversation thread, which could include a “success story” from our company’s experience (“We just did an X for another firm about your size and they’re seeing an immediate decline in their costs.”)
  • perspective – our view of current trends, market events or activity with our client’s business space and outside (for example, trends or practices in another industry that we think may apply to our clients)
  • point of view – a specific recommendation (e.g. conditions are changing, you should do __ now”)

We’re intending that the delivery of the idea have the same sort of effect as delivering casserole or chrysanthemums: “Why, thank you, I’m always glad when we meet because you always bring something for us to think about.”

Where do these information, ideas, perspectives, and points of view come from?  From our personal experience or from our firms’ research or other activities.

  • Personal experience – “I’ve noticed that several of the dentists we work with have started to X, Y, and Z.  How have you thought about that?  What are you experimenting with?”
  • Firm research – “Our economist says she expects housing prices to stabilize at current levels in markets and to be level for the next two years because new household formation is running at three times the rate of new home construction.”  Or, “we’ve analyzed our clients’ data and discovered that X is true, which goes counter to the conventional wisdom on the subject.”

All of this comes back to CALL PLANNING.  Just as it can be very challenging to buy something on the way to gramma’s house so our arms aren’t as long as each other, so it can be very challenging to share a strong idea or point of view on the spot with no preparation.  PLANNING AHEAD is an excellent strategy, in both cases.

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