Solve A Problem. Earn A Client

In which we are reminded that solving a prospect’s problem earns trust and opens the door.

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 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.”

Amazing…..

When I shared this story with one of my favorite (now) senior sales executives, he said: “When I was first starting out, in my first sales job, and I was meeting with a potential client for the first time, I would find a way… ANY way… to help them. Didn’t matter to me whether it was services I could sell or someone else’s services, I wanted to solve any problem for them so they would trust me and see me as a valuable resource so they would take my calls or call me back. I figured that, if I could earn their respect and trust, there would be plenty of time, later, for me to offer my services.

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