Every few months I facilitate Fast Trac Growth Venture for the Kauffman Foundation. It’s 8 sessions of business education for entrepreneurs with growing businesses. In the first session I ask the business owners to call three of their clients and ask what value they provided and the impact of that value. The class participants are often amazed that the answers are different than what they expected.
Even though the business owner thinks he is providing a actual product or service, the client often talks mostly about the relationship, being taken care of, convenience, response time, reliability, trust, respect, friendship and partnership. Quite often the business owner has little sense of the big difference his product or service makes in the results of the client. How would he know if he didn’t ask?
This happened to me as well. I could never ask my students to do something I myself hadn’t done. I think this is one of the most important exercises to do on a regular basis for any business. So I called several of my corporate clients and asked them: “What value did I provide? What was the impact of our work together?”
I got an earful about how I helped create a focus on sales and marketing throughout the whole company. As a result of a two day workshop one company reorganized and empowered their customer service department, made the website more interactive, decided to focus on providing world class customer service, trained staff to up-sell and cross-sell. Another professional service firm saw their employees had more buy-in to execute the company vision. This is just a taste of all I heard. Each company had achieved long term as well as short term results.
I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t ask. So I challenge you. Do you know what value your company provides to your clients? Do you know the impact you’ve created on your client’s businesses?
More importantly, do your staff know what the value proposition is? How can they communicate it if your company hasn’t asked clients, compiled the comments and defined your firm’s overall value today with existing clients? If you have done this work and haven’t shared it with your staff, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Your staff in their everyday conversations with current prospects and clients highlight what your company has done and the impact for other clients. It gives them the wherewithal to promote the business. In addition they will be more motivated when they learn the impact of their own work.
What are some of the ways you can use information you get from clients about the value you and your staff have provided?
- You can find out more about the clients who respond best to the way your company works. This further defines your ideal client. From there you can hone your strategy to sell more to more clients who are just like the ones you’re succeeding with.
- You can use the same wording that your client uses and create your brand and messaging. Use it to create ads, taglines, report titles, website headings, email subject lines, It will attract more clients just like him.
- Your value proposition may be very different than a direct competitor because of something special you and your company bring. When you discover that, you can use it to create market share and competitive advantage.
- You can use each client’s responses to create case studies (names don’t have to be included) or testimonials. Use these on your website, leave-behind packets, when speaking to prospects or in network settings to ‘wow’ your audience.
- You can use this information to generate confidence and upgrade morale. Everyone likes to know they’ve made a difference.
- You can use this information to enhance and promote your expertise and ultimately play a bigger game.. Sprinkle your strong proven value proposition in your articles, webinars, the book you write, radio/tv, press releases, your speeches, biographical sketches.
- You might hear about something a client doesn’t like. That’s a gift. You find out about something that needs correcting before the client walks and before other prospects turn away without you getting to ask why.
I encourage you to call your clients and ask them what value you and your company have delivered? And what has been the impact of that value? Participants in the Growth Venture class found their clients very easy to talk to. The clients were happy to be asked. Clients feel more invested in your business when their input is considered valuable.
Have you asked your clients these same questions? What has been your experience? How has it impacted your business?