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What Prospects Actually Want

By Tammy Stanley

"I will pay a man more for his ability to communicate than for any other quality he may possess."
-Charles Schwaab

All business professionals know they can afford to talk to others about their business, which is why word of mouth advertising is the one form of marketing on which plenty of sales professionals rely. However, spend a few months attending various networking meetings and a particular observation is inevitable -- few professionals understand what prospects actually want.

Don't believe me? Think about the last networking meeting you went to, and try to recall one person whose message was so compelling, you immediately thought of someone who needed that service and passed on a lead. The more typical scenario is that you came home with yet another stack of business cards that are still on your desk, waiting to be filed in the trusty ol' Rolodex!

The point of networking isn't to fill up a Rolodex. The point of networking is to build a network of people who understand what it is that you do so well, that they easily think of people they know, who need your service or product.

Instead of getting inside the customer's shoes and thinking what the customer would truly want, individuals focus on facts that mean nothing to their potential customer, such as their name, their title with a company, their company name and how long the company has been in business. "I'm Jessica Smith and I'm a Realtor® with On Track Realty, which has been in the area for the last 15 years."

It's true that most people follow that formula, but that doesn't mean you should copy it! Is that what prospects want - a Realtor® who is affiliated with a 15 year old company? Seriously now, who goes to bed thinking he wants that?

If you picture it, you might even start laughing out loud. Go ahead, visualize Sally Smith crawling into bed. She lays herself down, and as she's drifting off to sleep she thinks, "Oh, if only I could find a Realtor® who has been with a 15-year old real estate company!" Ha! I don't think so.

Prospects don't care about you, your name, or what you do until you give them reason enough to care. But don't think that means you can present tired and worn out phrases as something desirable, such as, "Here at Inside Insurance, we focus on exceptional customer service."

Back in high school, I had an English teacher who would often write "SGWDIM," as a comment on my book reviews. It stood for "sounds good... what does it mean?" When you talk about great customer service, your prospect is probably thinking SGWDIM -- sounds good... what does it mean. Phrases like "great customer service" and "best quality in town" are phrases that are more clichés than they are compelling reasons to do business with you.

Low Rate eCommerce & Retail Plans

But wait a minute! Don't customers want great customer service? Don't customers feel more compelled to do business with someone who has a 20-year track record as opposed to just one or two?

Certainly the vast majority of sales professionals assume so, but let's look at a specific situation to better understand the somewhat intricate answer to those questions.

Let's look at the Google phenomena. When Google began its search engine service, it didn't have the years of already being in business that other search engines offered, yet it quickly became the preferred search engine on the web. Plenty of people switched their allegiance from the search engine they'd been using for years to a completely new company. Why? Was it because Google offered something as cliché as great customer service?

No, Google didn't say, "Come over to our search engine -- we have better customer service." Google gave great customer service by putting themselves in their customers shoes and figuring out what customers really wanted in a search engine -- a clean page without hundreds of other confusing ads or services, and reliable and effective searches.

What do prospects want from a search engine? Simplicity and reliability. Is that great customer service from a search engine? Yes, it is, and it's also a way to describe customer service in a manner that actually means something to a prospect.

Your prospects don't want great customer service. They want the things that signify great customer service.

What would great customer service look and feel like from a Realtor®, or an insurance agent, or a financial planner? That's the question to sit down and ask yourself, and the qualities you uncover are what you want to describe. What benefits does your long track record provide for your customers? Again, that's a question to ask yourself, and the benefits you discover are the benefits your prospects want to hear about.

A business coach I know used to tell her prospective clients that she could help them gain tremendous clarity; her calendar remained considerably open. After working with a few clients, she sat down and really figured out what her coaching had done for them. Then she started telling people that she helped financial planners get more clients. Now she has a waiting list. Her ideal prospects didn't want clarity, they wanted more clients. Interestingly enough, this coach helped them get more clients by assisting them to gain clarity in their businesses and in their lives. In other words, what you do isn't necessarily what your ideal prospects want.

People don't want a Realtor® with great customer service, they want a Realtor® who provides the benefits that add up to great customer service. So, why should your prospects use you as opposed to anyone else out there who does what you do? When you can answer that question, you'll be on the track of discovering what your prospects actually want.

Now, instead of pondering the answer to that question on the last five minutes of your drive over to a networking meeting, I challenge you to work on this right now. It can't wait until tomorrow because every time you talk, you have the opportunity to increase your network of people who will remember and recommend you. Start making your vocal marketing irresistible by asking yourself again and again, "What do my customers actually want!

About the Author:
Author, Sales Trainer, and Professional Speaker, Tammy Stanley founded and directs The Sales Refinery, a sales training firm that assists independent sales professionals generate more business through powerful marketing, selling and leadership strategies. To get your FREE REPORT, 3 Simple Secrets to Attracting More Prospects in Your Independent Sales Business, go to

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