Standing Out in the Crowd (Issue 495)

In which we discuss strategies to draw attention and attract  prospects and referrals. During a training session for branch managers and small business bankers, I shifted the focus from typical networking and prospecting to “attraction marketing” – attracting prospects to you rather than you stalking and chasing them.

Feeling a little frisky, I asked, “Remember when you were dating? What strategies did you use to attract people to you?” Virtually all eyes in the room went straight to the floor. Silence. A few sheepish side glances. More silence. And them a guy spoke up from the back of the room.

“I’ll tell you how I met my wife. I went to a party one night. I wore a white Panama fedora at an angle like this….” And with his hands he showed us the rakish angle of his hat. “She came up to me and said ‘nice hat,’ and we started talking.”

More silence. Someone else spoke: “I bought a shirt with a funny saying on it and I wore it to a party. I wasn’t there 2 minutes before another guest said, ‘I like your shirt.’ It was impossible to not read the words. I drew more attention than people wearing regular shirts.”

So, maybe you’re thinking these are dumb party stories…. You could be right and… their strategies worked. They were fishing where there were fish and they positioned themselves clearly. A little bit outrageous.  Something funny, different, and memorable, distinguishable in the sea of faces.   A bit of an attitude. Brave, courageous, and bold.

So, in our sales world, what can we do?

1. Wear something a little “different” that draws a little attention. Our clients and prospects pay attention to clothing and accessories. One of my physicians, for example wears bow ties (turns out, many of his colleagues do, as well) AND wonderful, outrageous socks. We notice the socks! He shows a little style. Develop a look, something that is distinctively “us.”

2. Give some of our expertise away. Speak at meetings. Write articles. Offer free seminars or webinars. Teach courses. Talk to our prospects about their challenges without ‘selling’ them. Invest some time to teach them or help them learn. Build blogs. Write and publish Top 10 lists. Publish our own e-zines.

3. Lead. Lead something. Anything. A community activity. An organization. Burn with passion about it.  Share the excitement. Get something done. Make a difference.  Enroll other people in supporting it.

4. Listen and connect people to each other. Be great networkers. Ask questions about and listen carefully to the challenges and aspirations of the people we meet. Connect them with resources who can help them.

5.  Develop positioning language to present quickly our expertise or the results we produce. Teach it to the people in our networks. “S/he’s the person who….”

“Yah, but…. I sell for a computer services company… or a bank…. or an accounting firm. I can’t do those things.”

Sez who? Your firm markets, yes? You can as well. Some options may be off limits, so use the others. There’s always the hat.

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