Prospecting by Example (Issue 672)

In which we are reminded that word of mouth beats calling cold.

Still shivering from the late evening February cold, I shuffled forward in the airport rental car company line as I watched one person after another turn away from the counter, car-less.

“So, I’m seeing you have no cars,” I said, when it was my turn.

“I’m sorry, that’s right. We don’t have cars. Nobody has cars.  We’ll have cars in two hours.”

I glanced at my phone. 10:30 pm. “How confident are you in that estimate?”

“I’m telling you what I’ve been told: Two hours.  Do you want to go on the waiting list or not?”

I stared at him for a moment. “Sure,” I replied, defeated.

Seeing no vacant chairs and no wall space available, I removed a stack of magazines from a side table and sat down to think.

“Anybody tried calling cabs,” I asked those around me?

“No cabs,” they said, “the people who came before us must have sucked them all up.”

So, I sat for about twenty minutes… texted my wife… phoned my children… mulled over what to do.

Mid-text, I suddenly recalled that one of my friends in the organization I was there to visit had weeks before shared the name of  a car service she uses in a town forty minutes away, so I called.

“Brian’s Taxi, this is Brian.”

“Brian, this is Nick Miller. I’m a friend of so-and-so. I’m stuck at the Airport.  Hertz has no cars. Nobody has cars.  There are no cabs. I’m trying to get to thus-and-such hotel. I know it’s late and out of the way.  Can you help me?”

“Absolutely,” he said. “Where are you?….. I’ll have a car there in twenty minutes.”

He called me back ten minutes later. “The car will be there in five minutes.”

Five  minutes later, as I fastened my seat belt in the car,  the driver’s mobile phone rang. “Yes, Brian, I have him.”

Fifty five minutes later, as I settled into my hotel room, my mobile phone rang.

“Nick, this is Brian.  Glad you’ve arrived. What transportation do you need tomorrow, since you don’t have a rental car.”

Long story short, Brian’s car was there for me next day to return me to the airport. As we arrived at the airport, the driver handed me a receipt for the fare.

“This receipt looks different from the receipt I received last night,” I said.

“Yes,” said my afternoon driver. “Last night wasn’t one of our cars. Brian called another company to pick you up because he didn’t want you to wait for us.”


“Blowing people out of the water with over the top delivery” is not what most people think of when they utter the words, “more prospecting.”

Yet, in the last week, still amazed by my Brian’s Taxi experience, I’ve expanded Brian’s prospect list by sharing this story with a dozen friends…. including “write this number down and use it when you need a car in…”

Increasingly, business buyer and consumer choices when they’re searching for professional services (and products and  other services) are influenced by their friends and colleagues and by on-line comments. Strong positive word of mouth, glowing on-line recommendations (for example, in Linked In), and four-star or five-star reviews are increasingly important elements in the game.

While, “the bar is open” may still be useful information, “the bar is raised” is the new reality.

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